Statue unveiled of 'most influential' Leicester City owner Khun Vichai after fatal helicopter crash

By ITV News Central Production Journalist Nick Reid

A statue commemorating the life and achievements of Leicester City's former owner who died in a helicopter crash has been unveiled at the King Power Stadium.

Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha died alongside staff members Kaveporn Punpare and Nusara Suknamai, and pilots Eric Swaffer and Izabela Lechowicz, in a tragic helicopter accident in October 2018.

Mr Vichai oversaw the Foxes as they marched to the Premier League title in the 2015/16 season and is described as the "most influential figure in the Football Club’s 138-year history".

The club's football family came together on Monday (April 4) for the inauguration of the Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha statue on what would have been his 64th birthday.

Chief Executive Susan Whelan – a close friend and colleague of Khun Vichai – opened proceedings, before current Leicester City chairman Khun Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha unveiled the statue of his father in front of a crowd of family and friends.

Commissioned by the Srivaddhanaprabha family, the Khun Vichai statue is a permanent embodiment of his legacy Credit: Leicester City FC

She said: "Khun Vichai loved this city. He greatly appreciated the affection shown by the people of Leicester and recognised how this community believed in his vision.

"Today, his contribution to the club and to the city is made eternal. For generations to come, people will stand in this place and tell stories of The Possible Man.

"They will speak of his leadership and ambition, but also of his generosity and kindness.

"However this site changes, in all the moments we will experience together, his presence will be permanent."

The current Leicester City first team squad were joined by members of the 2016 Premier League title-winning team and former managers Nigel Pearson, Claudio Ranieri and Craig Shakespeare.

Directors, senior and long-serving club staff, former chairmen and iconic former players also attended alongside a number of distinguished guests.

Commissioned by the Srivaddhanaprabha family, the Khun Vichai statue is a permanent embodiment of his legacy.

The statue inauguration ceremony was led by Buddhist monks, who travelled to Leicester from Thailand at the request of the Srivaddhanaprabha family.

The ceremony

The ceremony commenced with the lighting of candles and incense, before the reading of Sanskrit prayers by the Buddhist monks.

A string stretching the length of the ceremony room, representing the Buddha, was then blessed from a golden bowl with candle wax to create holy water. 

Afterwards, the monks bestowed five precepts – constituting a basic code of ethics in Buddhism – upon the head of the ceremony. Buddhist chanting then began, marking the start of the Matrix funeral chant.

Current Leicester City Chairman Khun Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha unveils the statue Credit: Leicester City FC

Guests were later invited to offer yellow robes to the monks, in accordance with Bangsukul ceremony traditions, and to transfer love and goodwill to Khun Vichai.

Bangsukul chanting continued, before the ceremony concluded with the pouring of water to dedicate merit to all. 

Unwavering dedication

With his unwavering dedication and ceaseless passion for the club, the story Khun Vichai inspired at King Power Stadium delighted millions around the world. 

Establishing Leicester City among the game’s elite was only part of Khun Vichai’s gift to Leicester, whose communities came to love and admire his frequent displays of generosity.

He invested in their football club, delivering experiences that brought the people of the city together in pride and celebration.

Following the inauguration ceremony on Monday, the Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha statue at King Power Stadium will be accessible to supporters from Tuesday, April 5.