Published: Sun, November 11, 2018
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The ‘5,000-1’ walk: Leicester City fans honor owner & helicopter crash victims

The ‘5,000-1’ walk: Leicester City fans honor owner & helicopter crash victims

Leicester players have led thousands of fans on a walk from the centre of the city to the club's stadium as soccer returned home for the first time since the death of the owner who oversaw the team's transformation into improbable English Premier League champions.

Another supporter, Don Martin, said: "It seems like it's a celebration but it's one of the saddest days for the club".

On Friday, the club announced plans to erect a statue of Vichai at the stadium.

Vichai was among five people killed when the helicopter plunged to the ground in a vehicle park just outside the stadium following Leicester's match against West Ham on October 27.

His son and vice-chairman Aiyawatt confirmed the commissioning of a statue in a personal tribute in a souvenir programme to be given to all fans at Saturday's home Premier League game against Burnley.

A special "Tribute to Khun Vichai" video was shown on big screens before kick-off against Burnley, two weeks after the tragedy, which took place moments after the helicopter had taken off from the pitch at the King Power Stadium.

A two minutes silence was held before the match and players wore black armbands, their match day shirts had Khun Vichai's name embroidered on them during the first half, whilst second half shirts had the poppy symbol, commemorating 100 years since the end of the World War one.

"I was on the side of the pitch standing, chatting with some of those closest to him that night and waved him off as he took off, like I almost always used to do after home games", wrote Schmeichel.

Boss Claude Puel admitted preparations for the Burnley game had been hard after a 12,000-mile round trip but said it was important to the players to pay their respects.

Staff and players including striker Jamie Vardy, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and captain Wes Morgan attended the emotional funeral on Monday in Thailand.

"What happened next will stay with me forever".

Tributes left at the stadium are to be moved to a memorial area.

The LCFC Foxes Foundation, which has raised nearly £2M for local charities since its formation in 2011/12, has been renamed in honour of Khun Vichai, whose generosity saw him make over £4M in personal donations to local hospitals, universities and charities in recent years.

"It's not easy to prepare this game, but the togetherness between us all, it's a good feeling, a good energy, a fantastic strength", he said.

A two-minute silence will be observed before the start of the game, the first home fixture to be played since the tragic accident.

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