A bittersweet day for Leicester City as they mourn Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
It was a bittersweet day for Leicester City, and it was a rare moment of unity in football. The Foxes may have won all three points in a 1-0 victory over Cardiff City, but in the grand scheme of things, it was of little importance.
This was a football club still in mourning, grieving the loss of their owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. The Thai businessman was killed, along with four others, in a helicopter crash on October 27, after taking off from the club's stadium following a 1-1 draw with West Ham United.
Their first game since the owner's death took place in Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium - with only a Demarai Gray goal separating the sides. The Leicester winger celebrated his goal by removing his jersey, revealing a top that read 'For Khun Vichai'. Before the game, a wreath was laid on the pitch as fans fell silent to remember the chairman.
BBC's Dafydd Pritchard reflects on the atmosphere in Cardiff: "Once the game was under way, Leicester's supporters sang in memory of their owner and roared encouragement to their players. Cardiff's fans joined in. This was a rare, harmonious atmosphere."
He adds: "On the pitch, this looked like any other match. In the stands, it was one like no other."
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel admitted that he was "shaking" in the warm-up. The 31-year-old Dane, who was one of the first on the scene after the crash, told Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker: "I am glad we got three points for him. Today was difficult. Coming out for the warm-up was tough. The first 10 minutes I couldn't steady myself, I was shaking a little bit."
The goalkeeper, who was part of the Premier League title-winning team in 2015-16, said: "That was a tough game, not just on the pitch but mentally.
"There are a lot of exhausted people in there now but I am proud of this team and the club. The way everyone has handled themselves has been unbelievable.
"It has been hard. We have tried for a few hours a day to be professional and train hard, but everyone wanted to play and win for his family. His family have been strong, [with] the courage they have had.
"I feel just an overwhelming sense of pride of being part of the family that Vichai built and the extended family of Leicester City."
Every Premier League club held a minute's silence at the weekend, and players wore black armbands as a sign of respect. Arsenal chose to wear fox-embroidered black armbands against Liverpool - the animal that is the emblem of Leicester City.
Leicester players travelled to Thailand on a 12-hour flight on Saturday for the funeral of the club's owner. Manager Claude Puel, club captain Wes Morgan, Jamie Vardy and Schmeichel were among the players who attended a prayer ceremony at a Bangkok temple. "It began on Saturday with Buddhist bathing rituals, and is being followed by a week of recitation ceremonies," the BBC reports. They attended prayers on Sunday, and will do so again today, before travelling back to the UK on Tuesday.
Leicester City will play Burnley in their first home game since the helicopter crash on Saturday (K.O. 3pm).