Leicester City players are “devastated” by the death of the club’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and will be given time off to attend his funeral, said manager Claude Puel.
Srivaddhanaprabha was one of five people who died when the Leicester chairman’s helicopter crashed moments after taking off from the King Power Stadium’s pitch on Saturday.
Puel confirmed reports that Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, a key player in the club’s remarkable Premier League title triumph in 2015-16, was one of the first people on the scene of the accident.
“Yes I don’t want to give out the details of course just for Kasper, he lives this situation and he saw a lot of things,” Puel told a news conference.
“Kasper, like the other players, they all have a lot of history with the chairman and they are all devastated. After, I saw Kasper, I think he was the only player still here after the game. It was difficult, very difficult.
“I was in the stadium with my family and friends and all my staff and someone gave me the news. And of course we were devastated, we cannot understand what has happened because it is not possible to learn this news.
“I didn’t see Khun Vichai after the game, I saw him before the game. He enjoyed it, he was happy and with a smile and we discussed a lot in my office. It was a pleasure and of course I cannot imagine this thing after.
“I want to give players the opportunity to go [to the funeral] if they want to but I don’t know about the logistics. But the players want to go and support Vichai’s family, his wife and Top [Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha], the club’s vice-chairman.”
Today marks the 134th anniversary of the founding of Leicester City, formerly Leicester Fosse.
As a club and as a family, we enter our 135th year with a determination to continue building towards Khun Vichai’s vision. pic.twitter.com/J18FSPLu8W
— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 1, 2018
The outside of the King Power Stadium has been taken over by a massive tribute to Srivaddhanaprabha.
“It was fantastic and I’m not surprised because he was a nice man with his warmth, his kindness, his ambition he gave us us motivation,” said Puel of the tributes to the club’s late owner.
“Vichai changed his life a lot of and he invested in the city, the club and he was close to people also all the time – I think we can see all this because of all the flowers it is like a family.
“I think it was his spirit and his kindness in situations, he was close to people but he wanted he please all the time he was genuine.
“Personally, for example he invited me often for to the races – I met Prince William and Prince Harry – it was fantastic, he shared all the things with his staff, his players. I took his boat for three days with my family because he wanted all the time to please the people around him.
“I think step by step we have to build and to move on step by step – we have to give our best to continue his work and his dream, we can fight together and to honour him.”
Former Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson travelled to Leicester today to pay his respects to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and those who sadly lost their lives. pic.twitter.com/pDJbqJciey
— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 31, 2018
Puel confirmed support is on offer to Leicester’s players as they prepare for the first game since Srivaddhanaprabha’s death, away to Cardiff City in the Premier League on Saturday.
“A lot of people have been available to help players and staff and I think the reaction to face this event is different and we have to understand that people can have a different reaction but we put in place all the help necessary for all the people,” he added.
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