Who will fill the void left by Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in Leicester? | Football news



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Leicester pay tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after a 1-0 win over Cardiff on Saturday

Leicester pay tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after a 1-0 win over Cardiff on Saturday

Sky Sports News reporter Rob Dorsett reflects on the funeral of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and how Leicester left the tragic events of October 27 …

Thousands of flowers, all perfectly white – jasmine, lilies, lotus flowers, orchids – lining the 100-meter bridge leading to the entrance to the Wat Debsirin Temple. Elaborate exhibits that are constantly attended by armies of helpers. Each wilted petal was quickly removed. No flower left without water to drink, in temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius. Collections of incenses, constantly burning, are replaced regularly when worn. Entering the Temple where Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is is a sensory experience like no other.

Once inside the Temple, there is a huge portrait of Khun Vichai surrounded by even more elaborate and spectacular flower displays, along with the ceremonial fans offered by the great and good families of Thailand. The Thai prime minister visited his funeral, as did the Thai princess. The British ambassador … The most limited player in Thailand – the list of dignitaries continues indefinitely. And then there's the funeral coffin – an 8-foot-tall, massive gold eight-sided urn, given by the king of Thailand as the final resting place for a diminutive, humble and quiet man whose importance to the world has surpassed in very tall.

Jamie Vardy and Andy King of Leicester pay tribute at Wat Thepsirin temple in Bangkok

Jamie Vardy and Andy King of Leicester pay tribute at Wat Thepsirin temple in Bangkok

Standing before this opulent sanctuary, it is impossible not to feel the importance of Khun Vichai within his country of origin.

As it is in Bangkok, so is in Leicester.

No one is in any doubt about Vichai's position within the football club he owned, and how vital he was to his success. Jamie Vardy called him Leicester's father – the platoon as a whole called him "The Boss".

So what now for Leicester after the passing of this man?

There is a huge void to fill. It's a question that many Foxes fans have asked since the tragic events of October 27. The fear is that the club could be aimless, without direction, in the absence of its patriarch.

But there is more than one small reason for optimism. The key people who run the football club are still in place.

Chief Executive Susan Whelan never looks for the spotlight, but she is resolute and insightful when it comes to business. She almost never does interviews, but she knows King Power intimately, having worked in the upper echelons of the multibillion-pound business for years before Vichai personally chose her as one of her most trusted executives to run her new club. football in 2010..

Susan Whelan, executive director, provided stability and support to Leicester officials following the death of Srivaddhanaprabha

Susan Whelan, executive director, provided stability and support to Leicester officials following the death of Srivaddhanaprabha

She was devastated by the accident, having known Vichai longer and more closely than anyone else in Leicester. But his lead – just minutes after the helicopter hit that Saturday night – was nothing short of impressive. His clarity of mind and decision making, when the others were in chaos, were recognized with all the staff of the club. She inspired, controlled, and motivated a workforce that was shocked by an unexpected tragedy. That speaks volumes about his strength of character and bodes well for the stability of the club going forward.

Jon Rudkin, the football director, knows the club better than anyone else. He began working as a club gym manager and, several times since, was appointed acting manager when the main man was fired. He also helped develop Emile Heskey, Jeff Schlupp and Andy King.

Football director John Rudkin was a senior adviser to Srivaddhanaprabha, helping to shape the recruitment strategy

Football director John Rudkin was a senior adviser to Srivaddhanaprabha, helping to shape the recruitment strategy

But since the acquisition of Srivaddhanaprabha in 2010, he has almost always been on the side of Vichai. A key adviser and insight-giver in the running of English football, and "the Leicester Road". Together with Whelan, he can continue to offer industry insight and recruitment strategy, which is so vital to a successful club.

Before Srivaddhanaprabha's death, there was intermittent speculation about the future of coach Claude Puel. In the aftermath of Vichai's demise, you have to say that your position is safer than ever.

He was Leicester's first voice to speak after the tragedy, and he did so with a quiet dignity that earned him many new admirers both inside and outside the club. His whispering, thoughtful style of speech matched perfectly with the dark mood.

Leicester coach Claude Puel (center) gave his team the freedom to make decisions about how they marked the death of Srivaddhanaprabha

Leicester coach Claude Puel (center) gave his team the freedom to make decisions about how they marked the death of Srivaddhanaprabha

But more than that, his words were considered honest and proper. He grew in the eyes of the Leicester bosses and proved very capable of leading the team of players at a time when they really needed someone to lead. It was Puel who asked the players what they wanted to do last Monday morning when they reported their first training session. They chose not to train.

Instead, Puel allowed Kasper Schmeichel to take the lead in the group discussions – the sharing of emotion and the first digestion of the weekend events. Sometimes the best leadership is knowing when to retreat, and Puel knew there were others in the group who had known Vichai much longer, suffering more acutely, and could speak more appropriately at that moment.

Shinji Okazaki and Christian Fuchs were also among the players to attend the ceremony

Shinji Okazaki and Christian Fuchs were also among the players to attend the ceremony

Puel asked the players if they wanted to attend the funeral ceremony in Bangkok, explaining that this would mean an exhaustive agenda with 25 hours of flying, which would allow only 36 hours in the country. All the players said they wanted to go. Puel accepted his wish, though it was not the best physical preparation for his team, keeping in mind Saturday's game against Burnley.

He demonstrated great emotional intelligence by allowing his squadron to make decisions on its own. Treating them as adults and respecting their desires at an incredibly difficult time. As a result, your bond with the players may only have been strengthened as well as your relationship with your bosses.

And Vichai's successor is a man who stands above all others, in importance to the future success of Leicester. And he knows it.

A Thai flag was taken around Cardiff City Stadium before kickoff last Saturday

A Thai flag was taken around Cardiff City Stadium before kickoff last Saturday

Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha is the key to Vichai's legacy. On four different occasions, I saw "Top" as it is affectionately known by the fans, make very public visits to the enormous sanctuary at King Power Stadium, to read the messages and share the pain of the fans. He knew that in this difficult time he could not hide to support his own private grief. He needed to be visible – next to the fans.

So there he was, twice with his mother, the widow of Vichai. Again with Claudio Ranieri on his first return to the club where he won the Premier League title. And again on their own, a more private pilgrimage. This is a man even smaller in stature than his father, but clearly a very strong man. A man who has impressed everyone with his composure and dignity since the personal tragedy that divided his family.

It fell on top to give the first official words of the football club in the aftermath of the helicopter crash. In his statement, he spoke consciously and comfortably about the new responsibility that had been placed in his path. A responsibility not only to keep the football club afloat, but to make it better, stronger, as his father would have wished.

Top succeeds. He really understands the club. Although it was the father who made all the major decisions in the last eight years, Top has been much more visible in Leicester and much more involved in the day-to-day club. He does the interviews – occasionally – that his father never did. Communicate your vision, the vision of Srivaddhanaprabha, of what the club wants to be.

Aiyawatt and Aimon, son and wife of the owner of Leicester City, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, pay tribute and do a floral tribute outside the club's King Power Stadium.

Aiyawatt and Aimon, son and wife of the owner of Leicester City, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, pay tribute and do a floral tribute outside the club's King Power Stadium.

He, of course, takes the lead in the £ 2.6 billion business empire of Vichai – King Power, which is a large retailer in Thailand and the East as a whole. There has to be a concern that, at least in the short term, he may be distracted by everything he needs to learn and do within the family business, devouring the time he would like to focus on football.

But any distraction from Leicester will not last long. For all his commercial interests, Leicester was the baby of Vichai. He made it clear to Aiyawatt that it is a key priority – something that must be nurtured, defended and invested. Aiyawatt told Leicester fans that he wants the club to thrive and progress further, in honor of his father.

All the other promises the Srivaddhanaprabha family made to Leicester, they kept. It would be wrong to doubt Aiyawatt's desire and determination now.

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