Football: Puel pays emotional tribute to Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

LEICESTER, England (REUTERS) – Leicester City manager Claude Puel paid an emotional tribute to the club’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha on Thursday (Nov 1) at his first news conference since the Thai tycoon was killed in a helicopter crash.

Vichai was one of five killed in the crash near the King Power Stadium after Leicester’s last league match on Saturday.

Two members of his staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz, also died in the accident.

Thai billionaire Vichai bought Leicester in 2010 and the team went on to stun the soccer world by winning the Premier League title in 2016.

His funeral will begin in Thailand on Saturday, the same day that Leicester visit Cardiff City in the Premier League in their first match since the tragedy.

“This has been without doubt one of the hardest weeks in the history of this football club, the tragic loss of five lives has left us numb and in shock,” Puel said at his weekly news conference.

“Our thoughts are with Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s family and with the all of the families who have lost a loved one. Vichai made Leicester City a family and made a dream. He invested in the club, the city and the people.

“He truly was loved by everyone inside and outside the club. Personally it was a privilege to work for him… He leaves a legacy and his vision for the club we take forward. I have never been prouder to be a manager of this club.”

Puel said Leicester’s players were devastated by the accident and that the team wanted to honour their chairman on the pitch against Cardiff.

“The game is not important, the result is not important,” the manager added. “Our desire, our actions, to give our best on the pitch, to honour our chairman is the most important thing.

“We will see the result, it’s the second thing. I think it’s about conviction, our focus. We will be ready. I hope we can find the good balance between the conviction and the emotion in this game.

“If we remain just on the emotion, it will be difficult.

“When I saw my players in training, they can give their best. After a few minutes, they are focused on the football on the pitch. I hope we can have just have this feeling during the game.

“We have a responsibility about his memory.”

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