Click here to view original web page at www.channelnewsasia.com
Leicester City players in Bangkok for funeral of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
Leicester City players and staff arrive at Wat Thepsirin Buddhist temple in Bangkok on the second day of the funeral ceremony for Leicester's Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha on Nov 4, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Lillian Suwanrumpha)

BANGKOK: Players and staff from Leicester City arrived in Bangkok on Sunday (Nov 4) to attend a mourning rite for the club's chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, whose death last week in a helicopter crash stunned the Premier League club.

Sunday marks the second day of a week-long ceremony held at Wat Thepsirin, one of Bangkok's most famous temples which typically serves as the site for funerals of very important Thais.

Over the coming days Thailand's business and political elites are expected to visit the temple to pay their respects, while monks will chant Buddhist verses over the duty-free mogul's body.

Vichai, 60, died last week, along with four others, when his helicopter crashed and burst into flames moments after taking off from Leicester's pitch following a match.

Thailand's business and political elites have turned out to pay their respects to Leicester
Thailand's business and political elites have turned out to pay their respects to Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. (Photo: AFP)

His death sent shockwaves through Leicester, where the charismatic Vichai had become a beloved figure in the club and the city - a feat rarely achieved by the Premier League's foreign owners.

It was under Vichai's ownership that Leicester crafted one of the biggest fairytales in English football history by winning the 2015/16 Premier League, having started the season as 5,000-1 outsiders for the title

'THE BOSS'

On Saturday, the team played at Cardiff City, their first match since his death, with players from both teams coming together to pay their respects before the game.

Massive banners featuring Thailand's flag saying "R.I.P. Vichai" moved across the stadium, and the crowd observed a minute of silence. Fans wore T-shirts with Vichai's picture on it, underneath the words "The Boss".

A man gives the final touches outside a temple where Leicester City owner Thai businessman Vichai S
A man adds final touches outside the temple. (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)

After the match, 13 members of Leicester City - including manager Claude Puel, striker Jamie Vardy and forward Shinji Okazaki - boarded a chartered flight to Bangkok, according to a statement from Vichai's company, King Power.

Arriving at Wat Thepsirin around 6 pm, Puel and Leicester's director of football Jon Rudkin walked at the front of the contingent, their gaze resolute under the flashing lights of photographers.

They were closely followed by team captain Wes Morgan and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel -- who is believed to be the closest of all the Leicester players to Vichai.

Behind them came Vardy and Okazaki, defenders Harry Maguire, Christian Fuchs and Ben Chilwell, midfielders Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison, Marc Albrighton and Andy King.

A Buddhist monk walks outside the temple where Leicester City owner Thai businessman Vichai Srivadd
A Buddhist monk walks outside the temple where the funeral for Leicester City owner Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha will be held in Bangkok, Nov 4, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)

Upon entering the temple, they gave Vichai's family a hug, and then offered up jasmine flowers as they knelt in front of a octagonal bejeweled urn given by the king to pay their final respects to their beloved chairman.

Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, the daughter of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, also attended the Buddhist rite, arriving about 30 minutes before the start of the recitation ceremony.

The first three days of the elaborate ceremony will have royal sponsorship.

After the week-long ceremony, Vichai's body will be kept for 100 days before cremation, though a date has yet to be set.

Vichai's company started out with a single store in Bangkok; today, his King Power empire includes a monopoly over the duty-free shops in Thailand's tourist-heavy airports.

Despite his business smarts Vichai owed his ascent to the canny navigation of Thailand's unpredictable politics and powerbrokers.

His links to the monarchy were reflected in the name of his company and his surname - which was bestowed upon him by the former king, and means "auspicious and prosperous light".

Leicester City players arrive to owner Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's funeral in
Leicester City players arrive for owner Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's funeral in Bangkok, Nov 4, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)

Vichai leaves behind a wife and four children - two sons and two daughters.

The four other crash victims were identified by British police as Nursara Suknamai - an actress and a runner-up in Miss Thailand Universe in 2005 - and Kaveporn Punpare, both members of Vichai's staff, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.