Leicester City owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was one of five people who died in a helicopter crash about an hour after the team’s 1-1 draw against West Ham on Saturday.
Srivaddhanaprabha regularly used the helicopter to travel between King Power Stadium and London before and after matches.
Five Killed in Crash Outside Stadium
Seconds after the helicopter took off from the center of the pitch at Leicester City’s stadium and cleared the stands, it crashed outside the arena. Nobody on board survived the crash.
“It is with the deepest regret and a collective broken heart that we confirm our Chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was among those to have tragically lost their lives on Saturday evening when a helicopter carrying him and four other people crashed outside King Power Stadium,” the club announced in a statement. “The primary thoughts of everyone at the Club are with the Srivaddhanaprabha family and the families of all those on-board at this time of unspeakable loss.”
The other victims included two members of Srivaddhanaprabha’s staff, named Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare. Pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz also died in the crash.
Srivaddhanaprabha purchased Leicester in 2010 for a reported price of Ł39 million ($49.9 million). He was widely beloved by Leicester City fans, not only because he helped bring the club its miraculous Premier League championship in 2016, but also for his outgoing, generous personality.
Outside of the soccer world, he was a successful retail mogul who grew a single shop into Thailand’s massive King Power duty-free retail empire.
“In Khun Vichai, the world has lost a great man,” the club statement read. “A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led. Leicester City was a family under his leadership. It is as a family that we will grieve his passing and maintain the pursuit of a vison for the Club that is now his legacy.”
Srivaddhanaprabha Mourned in Thailand, England
Leicester announced the postponement of the senior squad’s Carabao Cup match against Southampton that was scheduled for Tuesday, as well as a developmental team match with Feyenoord.
Srivaddhanaprabha’s death was also felt deeply in his native Thailand, where he was respected both for his business acumen and for his dedication to Thai values and culture, something he promoted as the Leicester chairman – a move that made the team extremely popular among Thai soccer fans.
“He is a self-made man, worked hard and loved friends dearly,” Anutin Charnvirakul, leader of the Bhumjai Thai political party, told local media. “We just lost someone who made big contributions to the public. I am sure his legacy will live on.”
Leicester City players also paid tribute to their chairman. Striker Jamie Vardy took to social media to pay his respects to Srivaddhanaprabha.
“Struggling to find the right words…but to me you are legend, an incredible man who had the biggest heart, the soul of Leicester City Football Club,” Vardy wrote on Instagram. “Thank you for everything you did for me, my family and our club. I will truly miss you…may you rest in peace.”