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Leicester players pay respect to owner ...after death in helicopter crash.

Leicester City players were overwhelmed with emotion at the King Power Stadium as they paid their respects to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the billionaire owner and chairman who died in a tragic helicopter crash on Saturday night.

The 60-year-old perished alongside two other passengers and two pilots when his own helicopter spun out of control shortly after taking off from the centre circle following Leicester's draw with West Ham.

Leicester stars including Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel were pictured alongside Srivaddhanaprabha's devastated son Aiyawattat at a shrine at the ground where hundreds of shirts and bouquets of flowers were left by fans in tribute to those who died.

Foxes players were expected to pay their respects alongside Srivaddhanaprabha's family and close friends in a private prayer service later on Monday.

Thousands of supporters have visited the club's stadium throughout Sunday and Monday to pay respects to their much-loved chairman with many laying flowers, Leicester City shirts and scarves to create a vast shrine.

Srivaddhanaprabha was a hugely popular figure at the club as he oversaw their rise from the Championship, the second-tier of English football, to become unlikely Premier League champions in 2016, beating 5,000-1 odds.

It is expected the cause of the crash will take time establish. Eye-witnesses told how the Augusta AW169 helicopter, which had landed minutes earlier after arriving from Belvoir Drive training ground, appeared to suffer a malfunction on take-off from the pitch, sending the aircraft into a tailspin just after rising above the stadium's roof. It then plunged nose first into an empty patch of ground adjacent to car park E behind the East Stand and burst into flames visible for half a mile. Nobody was injured on the ground.

The billionaire perished with his assistant Kaveporn Punpare and Nursara Suknamai, a Thai beauty queen turned PA, when the aircraft spiralled into a 'dead man's curve' when its tail rotor apparently failed.

The AW169 AgustaWestland helicopter's hero pilot Eric Swaffer and his girlfriend co-pilot Izabela Lechowicz also died - but potentially saved hundreds of lives by crashing away from the crowds of fans still in the surrounding area.

LECEISTER PLAYERS PAY TRIBUTE

*Schmeichel: 'I am so totally devastated and heartbroken, I cannot believe what I saw. It just doesn't seem real!'

'It is difficult to put into words how much you have meant to this football club and to the city of Leicester,' Schmeichel added.

*Jamie Vardy wrote: 'Struggling to find the right words, but to me you are legend, an incredible man who had the biggest heart, the soul of Leicester City Football Club.

'Thank you for everything you did for me, my family, and our club. I will truly miss you. May you rest in peace.'

*Harry Maguire posted: 'Words can't describe how I feel. A truly great, kind, loving man who will be missed so much by everyone. I will never forget the Chairman's support, not only during my time @LCFC but also during the World Cup RIP #TheBoss.

*Wes Morgan said: 'Absolutely heartbroken and devastated. A man that was loved and adored by everyone here and someone who I personally had the utmost respect for.'

FULL CLUB STATEMENT FROM LEICESTER CITY

It is with the deepest regret and a collective broken heart that we confirm our chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was among those to have tragically lost their lives on Saturday evening when a helicopter carrying him and four other people crashed outside King Power Stadium. None of the five people on-board survived.

The primary thoughts of everyone at the club are with the Srivaddhanaprabha family and the families of all those on-board at this time of unspeakable loss.

In Khun Vichai, the world has lost a great man. A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led. Leicester City was a family under his leadership. It is as a family that we will grieve his passing and maintain the pursuit of a vision for the club that is now his legacy.

A book of condolence, which will be shared with the Srivaddhanaprabha family, will be opened at King Power Stadium from 8am on Tuesday 30 October for supporters wishing to pay their respects.

Supporters unable to visit King Power Stadium that wish to leave a message can do so through an online book of condolence, which will be made available via lcfc.com in due course.

Both Tuesday's first team fixture against Southampton in the EFL Cup and the Development Squad fixture against Feyenoord in the Premier League International Cup have been postponed.

Everyone at the club has been truly touched by the remarkable response of the football family, whose thoughtful messages of support and solidarity have been deeply appreciated at this difficult time.
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Publication:Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra, Ghana)
Date:Nov 1, 2018
Words:905
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