Kasper Schmeichel recounts ‘horrifying’ details of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha helicopter crash and his Leicester legacy

The Leicester City goalkeeper was one of the first people to respond to the crash outside the King Power Stadium

Jack Watson
Friday 28 December 2018 13:45 GMT
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Leicester City fans join together for '5,000-1' walk for helicopter crash victims

Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has put the success in his career down the club’s late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and recalled the moments before and after the helicopter crash.

Srivaddhanaprabha, known as ‘The Boss’, was one of five people to die in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium following Leicester’s 1-1 draw against West Ham in late October.

Schmeichel joined Leicester in 2011 and was part of the 2015/16 Premier League winning squad, all overseen by the owner.

The Danish goalkeeper arrived at Leicester after being discarded by Manchester City, Notts County and Leeds United, still with the legacy of his father’s career hanging over him. But, at Leicester, he found his feet thanks to an owner that believed in him.

He said Srivaddhanaprabha gave him “belief and stability” and a confidence to play after an adverse start to his career having to prove himself at different clubs.

Following the West Ham match, Schmeichel, having waved the owner off the pitch as was tradition after home matches, noticed something was wrong with the helicopter that crashed moments later.

“Unfortunately, [I remember] everything. Every little detail,” he told Sky Sports. “I had family over from Denmark and I gave them a little look around the stadium and the pitch – the helicopter was always a big attraction.

“We waved him off, waved him goodbye, and we kind of just watched him go up. I’d seen him do it hundreds of times, it was a kind of ritual thing in the end.

“You could just tell something was wrong, because it doesn’t normally stand still like that. And what unfolded, unfolded.

The Leicester goalkeeper was very close to the owner

“I ran straight out of the tunnel and round to that side of the stadium. People over that side of the stadium hadn’t seen what had gone on. So, I came sprinting out, shouting for people to call the police, one of our security guards saw me, ran after me.

“We managed to get close – our security guard got closer than I did, and he (the security guard) tried to get in and do something.

“But it was very evident from the heat that there was nothing anyone would be able to do. And yeah – it was horrifying, horrible, to be that helpless.”

Following the death of the owner and four others, thousands of tributes came in honouring his life and the work he did for the community in Leicester. Srivaddhanaprabha’s notable donations include £2m to a children’s hospital and £1m to the medical department at Leicester University.

Several members of the Leicester squad flew to Thailand for the funeral  

“It’s very easy to be caught up in this world of money, fame and fortune. He is a guy who has done all that and doesn’t care about it. He only cares about helping people,” said Schmeichel.

“It just speaks to the man that he was. He didn’t need to buy a football club. That’s never a good business investment.

“He wasn’t in it to make money, he wanted to give. He had a passion for the club, for Leicester, all that he did for the city – the donations to the hospital and such.

“It was ownership done properly. If you’re a fan of any club, that’s the type of owner you want, the type of owner you dream of having.”

The 32-year-old added his own story of the late owner’s kindness when he was receiving treatment on a broken foot.

“When I broke my foot I had to go down to London and we were playing against Manchester City in our first season back in the Premier League,” he said.

“He came to the hospital, picked me up and flew me back in his helicopter to Leicester to watch the game with him. He didn’t have to do that, but he did.”

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's helicopter crashed on the 27 October 

As for the future of Leicester, Schmeichel has every faith in Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, Vichai’s son, to continue the work that his father began. “Well, I’m not one to compare people to their fathers. But from the moment I met Top, I knew he was a proper person,” he said.

“And I have no doubt he will do everything he can to make this club successful – for the club, for his father, for his family – it is just as much a passion for Top as it was for Khun Vichai.”

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