Sat, Nov 03, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Puel suffers Leicester City’s ‘hardest week’

AFP, LONDON

People on Thursday pay their respects to the five people who died in a helicopter crash last Saturday at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England.

Photo: AFP

Claude Puel on Thursday said his Leicester City players are struggling to come to terms with the most traumatic week in the club’s history as they prepare to return to English Premier League action following the tragic death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Thai billionaire Vichai, who brought the Premier League title to Leicester in 2015-2016, was among five people killed when his helicopter crashed outside the club’s King Power Stadium following last Saturday’s match against West Ham United.

Mourners have turned the King Power Stadium into a shrine, with flowers and tributes laid around the arena as the city grieves the loss of the charismatic Vichai.

“This has been without doubt one of the hardest weeks in the history of this football club,” Puel said. “The tragic loss of five lives has left us numb and in shock, and our prayers and love remain with Vichai’s family, and with the all of the families who have lost a loved one.”

Leicester are to take to the pitch for the first time since Vichai’s death when they travel to Cardiff City in the Premier League today.

“Vichai made Leicester City into what it is. He made it a family and made a dream. He invested in the club, the city, and he invested in the people,” Puel said. “He truly was loved by everyone inside and outside the club. Personally, it was a privilege to work for him. It was a privilege for the faith he showed in me and the moments we shared. To see all of the messages, and the flowers and shirts outside the stadium this week show how many lives he touched.”

Given the circumstances, Puel knows the result of Leicester’s clash with Cardiff is of secondary importance, but he hopes his team can use their forthcoming matches to pay tribute to the man whose investment and ambition turned the club into kings of England for one magical season.

“He leaves behind a legacy that will be remembered forever and his vision for the club that myself as manager we take forward,” Puel said. “I have never been prouder to be manager of this club. In such difficult circumstances — from staff, players and fans, they have shown what a special club this is. Playing football has not been on our minds this last week, but for this weekend and all matches after we will play to honor and remember a man who did so much for our club.”

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