UK. Leicester City Football Club, which is owned by Thai travel retailer King Power Group, yesterday unveiled an honorary statue of the late Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha at the King Power Stadium in Leicester City.
The statue serves as an eternal tribute to Khun Vichai on what would have been his 64th birthday.
The former King Power Group Chairman and CEO and Leicester City Football Club Chairman was tragically killed in a helicopter accident outside the stadium in October 2018. He died alongside staff members Kaveporn Punpare and Nusara Suknamai and pilots Eric Swaffer and Izabela Lechowicz.
The solemn inauguration was attended by his son and current King Power Group Chairman and CEO and Leicester City Football Club Chairman Khun Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha. He was joined by his family, management and staff and close friends of the late Chairman.
The statue was commissioned by the Srivaddhanaprabha family. It serves as a permanent tribute to the late Khun Vichai’s legacy in Leicester City, a place that gave him so much joy.
Beyond his investment in the club, Khun Vichai regularly contributed to community projects. Between arriving in Leicester in August 2010 and his untimely death in 2018, he donated over £4 million to help socially vulnerable people in the city. His charitable work continues today through the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation.
If penned as a work of fiction the Leicester City FC Story would be dismissed as wildly implausible. But it has been magically, magnificently real. And in the imposing form of the statue unveiled yesterday, the man who created that seeingly impossible reality, will be remembered forever.
Proceedings were opened by Leicester City Football Club (LCFC) Chief Executive Susan Whelan, who was a close friend and confidante of the late Chairman. “Khun Vichai loved this city,” Whelan said. “He greatly appreciated the affection shown by the people of Leicester and recognised how this community believed in his vision.
“Today, his contribution to the Club and to the city is made eternal. For generations to come, people will stand in this place and tell stories of ‘The Possible Man’. They will speak of his leadership and ambition, but also of his generosity and kindness. However this site changes, in all the moments we will experience together his presence will be permanent.”
After Whelan’s remarks, Khun Aiyawatt unveiled his father’s statue in front of family, friends and key members of Leicester City Football Club.
In line with Thai custom, the unveiling ceremony was led by Buddhist monks, who travelled to Leicester from Thailand at the request of the Srivaddhanaprabha family.
Buddhist ceremonies have become a tradition at Leicester City Football Club, particularly at the start of a new season or at the inauguration of new developments. Such ceremonies were held during the inauguration of the LCFC Training Ground in Seagrave and the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Garden.
The inauguration was also attended by the current Leicester City first team squad, along with members of the 2016 Premier League title-winning team. Former Leicester Football Club managers Nigel Pearson, Claudio Ranieri and Craig Shakespeare were also in attendance.
The Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha statue will be accessible to all Leicester City Football Club supporters beginning 5 April.
The inauguration was followed by a civic ceremony which saw LCFC receive the ‘Honorary Freedom of the City’ award. The award recognises the football club’s sporting triumphs and positive contributions to the local community.
The late Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and Khun Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha were presented with the inaugural City of Leicester Award which honours both father and son’s enormous charitable and philanthropic contributions to the city.
The introduction of the new civic honour received the unanimous backing of City Councillors, with Khun Vichai and Khun Aiyawatt as its first recipients.
Speaking on the legacy that his father has left in Leicester City, Khun Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said: “From the moment we arrived in Leicester 12 years ago we felt the support of this city. Its people have been with us during the best of times and during the most difficult of times. It has forged a bond between us that can never be broken.
“My father believed in the people of Leicester,” he added. “He gave his heart to them because he saw the strength of this city when its people came together and how we could all help each other. It makes me so proud that we continue to come together to fulfil that vision in his name.
“I will, with all my strength, continue to do my best for Leicester and its people, to remain deserving of this prestigious award that has been given to me and my late father.”