Heartbroken Leicester stars return to memorial for victims of helicopter crash as they lay out ‘The Boss ‘ wreath for owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha before boarding coach ahead of facing Cardiff this weekend
- Leicester’s first team squad paid a visit to the memorial for victims of the helicopter crash on Friday morning
- A host of players carried blue wreaths which made ‘The Boss’ tribute for owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
- The Thai billionaire died shortly after last week’s 1-1 draw with West Ham along with four other passengers
- Having cancelled their flight to Cardiff, the squad made the trip to Wales by coach on Friday afternoon
Leicester’s squad returned to the memorial for victims of the tragic helicopter crash on Friday morning as they laid down new wreaths which read ‘The Boss’ for owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Srivaddhanaprabha died shortly after last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with West Ham when his helicopter crashed outside the King Power Stadium in an incident which also killed four others.
The squad, led by goalkeeper Kasper Schmiechel, continued to pay their respects before turning attentions to the weekend’s fixture as they carried seven newly-made wreaths which spelled out ‘The Boss’.
(From right to left) Kasper Schmeichel, Harry Maguire, Mark Albrighton, Jamie Vardy, Wilfried Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Andy King and Wes Morgan were tasked with carrying the seven wreaths to create ‘The Boss’ floral tribute
Scores of tributes have come in from supporters across the country in a tragic accident that shocked the footballing world
Players were visibly still very shocked at how events unfolded since their last match – the 1-1 home draw against West Ham.
Goalkeeper Schmeichel was particularly taken by the wealth of tributes from fans of all teams across the country as former boss Craig Shakespeare attended to pay his respects.
The Danish stopper was still at the ground in tears in the hours that passed after the crash and striker Jamie Vardy reflected on the ‘hardest week of my life’ on Friday morning.
Vardy told Sky Sports News: ‘I was just on my way home with my wife and kids when I got the news. I was shocked. You don’t really believe that it’s happened.
Manager Claude Puel and his players laid down the seven wreaths as a tribute to the club’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
Goalkeeper Schmeichel read one of the many tributes at the memorial to Srivaddhanaprabha as players took in the enormity
Former boss Craig Shakespeare attended on Friday to place a bunch of flowers as he looked to pay his respects to the owner
‘Trying to get in touch with everyone, no one was picking their phones up or anything. That’s when I knew something was definitely wrong.’
But for Vardy, Saturday’s game is a chance to honour the owner’s name and channel the emotion to grind out a winning performance.
‘We know what we’ve got to do, we’re going to go out there and honour his name,’ Vardy said. ‘Put in a performance which will hopefully get the win. I know people are saying the result doesn’t matter but for us as lads, we want to try and make it a positive result.
‘It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be very emotional. But with the boys we’ve sat down, had a chat, and one thing we wanted to make sure, we played this game in honouring the man himself.
‘It’s been the hardest week of my life, it really has. Obviously we’ve got the support we need. And Top (Vichai’s son) himself, he knows whatever he needs, the lads and everyone around the city, everyone is with him. We need to make sure we continue that now.’
Schmeichel was close to tears once more as he looked at the memorial and the match will prove a tough battle for the players
After cancelling their Carabao Cup tie on Tuesday, Leicester will play their first match since the disaster on Saturday
Having scrapped plans to fly to the game, Leicester’s squad took the coach to Wales as they prepare to face Cardiff City
After postponing the midweek Carabao Cup tie with Southampton, Leicester City will take to the field for the first time since the crash in their Premier League tie at Cardiff on Saturday.
The Foxes have already cancelled their flight plans to the Welsh capital after the helicopter crash and will drive to the game instead.
Cardiff fans have arranged to pass around a specially made flag before kick off which pays tribute to Srivaddhanaprabha, who helped the club to an unlikely Premier League title win in 2016.
The design will include the Thai flag, the badges of Leicester and Cardiff, and the words ‘RIP Vichai’.
Cardiff boss Neil Warnock said on Friday that he initially suspected the game would not go ahead but hopes both players can handle the emotional occasion.
‘Originally I didn’t think the game would go ahead, and if I’m totally honest I was hoping it wasn’t going to go ahead,’ Bluebirds boss Warnock said at his pre-match press conference.
‘Monday and Tuesday this week, it was too emotional. But I understand now where they are and I think it’s a good decision to go ahead with it now because you’ve got to move on and you’ve got to get people back to normality as soon as possible.
‘Their players and our players will appreciate they can give 90 minutes and get it out of their system.’
Srivaddhanaprabha, pictured (L) on a poster, died aged 60 on Saturday in the crash, as players now look to ‘honour’ his name
Vardy described the ‘hardest week of my life’ as players prepare to play their first match since the disaster against Cardiff
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INSPECTORS TO EXAMINE HELICOPTER FLIGHT DATA
Flight data and voice recordings from the helicopter which crashed outside Leicester City’s stadium have been successfully downloaded, as the wreckage was moved to a specialist facility.
Club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was among five people killed in the accident on Saturday night.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said it was able to obtain information from the AW169 helicopter’s black box despite it being subject to “intense heat” in the post-accident fire.
Inspectors have begun a detailed analysis of the data as they attempt to find out what caused the aircraft to plunge to the ground shortly after take-off.
The AAIB carefully lifted the wreckage from the crash site near Leicester City’s King Power Stadium on Thursday night.
It has been moved to the investigators’ headquarters in Farnborough, Hampshire, where it will be laid out for a more detailed examination.
Footage taken from inside the ground shows the helicopter taking off from the pitch and climbing above the height of the stands when it begins spinning before plunging out of view.
The AAIB praised people who responded to its witness appeal and said investigators are examining videos and photographs of the flight.
The four victims killed alongside Mr Vichai were employees Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and his partner, Izabela Roza Lechowicz, who was also a professional pilot.
Thai media reported that the club owner’s body has arrived in Bangkok ahead of his funeral on Saturday.
Leicester boss Claude Puel has said he would give the players the opportunity to travel to Thailand for the funeral.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the crash, striker Jamie Vardy told Sky Sports News: “It’ll be massively important we attend. We are a close-knit group and one big family and one of the main reasons for that is Vichai, so it’s massively important.”
He added: “He wasn’t just a chairman, he literally was part of your extended family.
“It didn’t matter who you were, he always made time for you, and, as all the pictures that have been put out have shown, he was always smiling.
“Those are the things you will never forget and which will stay engraved in your mind.”
By Neil Lancefield, Press Association Transport Correspondent
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