‘Shaken’ Claudio Ranieri pays tribute to ‘illuminated’ Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Ranieri, who was hired by Srivaddhanaprabha in 2015 and led Leicester to their historic Premier League title success, said he was 'terribly shaken' by the news

Samuel Lovett
Monday 29 October 2018 20:30
A sea of flowers at King Power Stadium as thousands pay tribute to Leicester City owner

Former Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has paid tribute to owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha following his tragic death on Saturday night.

The 60-year-old Thai billionaire was among five people killed when his helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from the King Power Stadium following Leicester’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.

Thousands have so far paid tribute to Srivaddhanaprabha while numerous clubs and high-profile sports figures have tweeted their messages of support to the family and those affected by Saturday’s crash.

Ranieri, who was hired by Srivaddhanaprabha in 2015 and led Leicester to their historic Premier League title success, said he was “terribly shaken” by the news and described his old employer as “an illuminated” man.

“I was terribly shaken by the news,” he said on Monday. ”He was a good man and always had a positive word for everyone.

“His positivity and ability to make everybody love him was clear for all to see. He came into the dressing room only to dispense kind words, never to reproach you.

“One time soon after my birthday, he arrived in the dressing room with a huge cake and made everyone sing ‘Happy Birthday.’

“He was an illuminated man and everything he touched became better. Now it’s up to his son, who has always been in love with football, to carry on in his father’s footsteps.

“I remember when we first met that I immediately thought he was a positive person, full of energy. My objective when I arrived at Leicester was to secure Premier League safety, then we all know what happened.

“Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha made a very important contribution to the Premier League victory, as he’d arrive 30 minutes before the game to embrace everyone. He never said a word out of turn, was always happy with a smile on his face.

“I am so sad right now, I want to join the family in their grief.”

Earlier today, vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha visited the King Power to pay tribute to his father. An emotional Leicester squad also paid their respects to the 60-year-old.

Manager Claude Puel joined his players while vice chairman Aiyawatt returned to see the tributes after arriving earlier in the morning when around 200 fans broke into spontaneous applause.

Thousands have so far paid tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Aiyawatt was joined by his mother and Vichai’s wife Aimon at the ground where they laid a floral tribute on the centre spot of the King Power.

Club officials, including director of football Jon Rudkin and chief executive Susan Whelan, also attended as they viewed the floral tributes.

The president of the Thai FA, Somyot Poompanmoung and his wife, Potjaman Poompamoung, were also among the group, while various personalities from sport and showbiz – including Kasabian singer Tom Meighan – also arrived.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has recovered the helicopter’s black boxes, voice and data, and are working on them at their Farnborough base.

Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was visibly upset at the scene, having earlier paid an emotional tribute to the man who “changed football forever.”

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