Sport Writer Kit Shepard commemorates the legacy of one of the Premier League’s most beloved club owners
There was a time, a little over three years ago, that Leicester City were just another football club. Jamie Vardy was an industrious striker who was fortunate just to have the chance to play in the Premier League. Riyad Mahrez was a skillful winger, but rarely delivered any end product. N’Golo Kanté was a midfielder unknown to even Football Manager enthusiasts. Danny Drinkwater was a guy with a funny name. Kasper Schmeichel was simply Peter’s son.
As everyone knows, this all changed during the 2015/16 season, when Leicester defied odds of 5000/1 to win the Premier League. Their achievements that season transcended sport and stole the hearts of the football world.
In a stark contrast, the football world is now in mourning. Following their home encounter with West Ham on the 27th of October, Leicester’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s private helicopter crashed soon after taking off from the King Power Stadium, taking the lives of all five people on board, including the man responsible for the ultimate sporting Cinderella story.
We could go on forever about what Srivaddhanaprabha did for Leicester on the pitch, but it is his immense measure of generosity that does him the most justice. The 53-year-old also made a difference to the local community on a large scale, donating £1 million each to Leicester University and Royal Infirmary. However, smaller acts of kindness were not below Srivaddhanaprabha, as he regularly treated supporters to free food, beer, scarves and travel to away games. He truly could not have been further away from the ignorant, self-interested stereotype of the modern football club owner, a fact reflected by the countless tributes from players and fans alike. Sights of which are a rare breed.
If Vardy, Mahrez, Kanté and the rest are heroes, then Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is the biggest hero of them all. Rest in peace.