Neutrals around the world united behind Leicester City’s unlikely triumph. Source: YouTube
Thai-owned English Premier League champions Leicester City have arrived in Bangkok for a celebratory tour of their owner’s homeland.
Most of the team and manager are due to brave the tropical heat and legendary congestion for an open-top bus tour.
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the club’s Thai duty-free billionaire owner, arranged the trip and will be hoping for a more successful visit than the one last year. During the earlier Foxes visit, three players, including the son of then manager Nigel Pearson, were filmed making anti-Thai, racist remarks in a sex tape and were later fired from the club.
The tape undermined the club’s popularity in Thailand although this was quickly forgotten as the “Siamese Foxes”, as they became known in football-obsessed kingdom, rocketed up the table. This time, the club was following a rigid schedule. Manager Claudio Ranieri, captain Wes Morgan and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel were swamped at the airport by the Thai media and fans who had waited for their arrival.
Striker Jamie Vardy and midfielder Danny Drinkwater are on international duty with England ahead of the European Championships next month and were not in the party. Vardy also caused controversy in a casino during the previous closed season when he was filmed abusing another gambler and calling him “Jap” three times. He was fined and forced to undergo a diversity awareness course.
Vichai has shown matches at King Power’s headquarters with staff and fans offered free beer and prawns.
The magnate flew Buddhist monks to Leicester to bless Leicester’s King Power ground and the City squad.
Next season, the Foxes will play in the Champions League next season against the top clubs in Europe. They finished 10 points above Arsenal, overcoming odds of 5,000/1 at the start of this season.
A portrait of the Thailand’s long-serving King Bhumibol Adulyadej was raised after the players were presented with the trophy.
Vichai said he intended to send 100 promising young Thai players to train in Leicester in the next decade. This is in addition to 16 recruits currently training in the East Midlands city.
“Leicester’s facility is very good,” said Vichai, during the celebrations in Bangkok. This was proved by the incredible absence of serious injuries to the core group of Leicester players during the season. “I want the Thai national team to play in the World Cup,” Vichai added.
The national team is ranked 119th by Fifa.