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Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha: what he meant to me, in the words of a fan who left his trainers as a mark of respect

Credit: Darren Hall/Gary Henry

A man hears the news on Saturday night about a terrible helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium.

The death toll isn't confirmed, but anyone who saw that ball of flames would fear the worst.

Like hundreds of others, he is drawn to head to the stadium.

He stands by the sea of flowers and takes off his trainers.

He walks away bare foot, and emotional.

That man is Darren Hall, and this is his story.

Credit: Darren Hall

My name is Darren Hall.

I've been a Leicester fan since 1974. I was five when I went to my first game and I've been a season ticket holder for a long time now.

When Vichai came along I just thought he was another foreign investor looking to make a quick buck, but boy how wrong we all were.

From the off he promised big things that many of us including me scoffed at.

We laughed when he said he wanted Top Six within five years. We laughed when he wanted to pay £1m for a non league player (Vardy). Then he wanted to invest a further £180m to get into Europe again.

I just laughed. I mean this was little old Leicester the yo-yo club that just drifts around the top of the league with the odd relegation thrown in.

Then came the 2015/16 season. He brought in Claudio Ranieri - again everyone laughed. But wow, what a season. The free gifts - T shirts, scarfs, doughnuts, free drinks and the odd away trip travel paid for.

My dream came true - so many memories that year, I'd be here forever.

I decided to make my own trainers from the Adidas website; so yes they weren't cheap and yes they have to be a one off.

Credit: Gary Henry

After I heard of the tragic event it was a spur of the moment thing to go down.

I went down just to lay flowers but after seeing young children leave their teddies, scarfs and shirts, I thought 'I wish I'd brought something'.

Then as I bowed my head over the railings I thought I've got my trainers. I'll never see the chairman again, but I can get a new pair so I just took them off and walked back to the car.

I thank him because without him I wouldn't have those trainers or these memories.

We've not just lost a chairman of a football team, we've lost a friend, a fellow blue, who took us to heights we may never see again.

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