Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha: son Aiyawatt promises to continue Leicester owner’s ‘big dreams’ after helicopter crash
- Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha thanks fans for support in ‘most difficult time’
- Thai billionaire died in helicopter crash outside football club’s stadium
The son of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has vowed to carry on his father’s legacy after the Leicester City owner was killed in a helicopter crash outside the club’s stadium last weekend.
Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, Leicester’ CEO and vice-chairman, wrote a touching tribute which was posted on the club’s official website on Wednesday, and promised to continue his father’s work.
“I’m extremely proud to have such an extraordinary father,” the 33-year-old said. “From him, I have received a very big mission and legacy to pass on and I intend to do just that.”
He added: “I will do everything I can to carry on his big vision and dreams.”
Vichai, the owner of retail company King Power, led the consortium that bought Leicester in August 2010, and oversaw the club’s rise from the third tier of English football to Premier League champions in 2016.
That fairy tale triumph forged a close bond between the club’s fans and Vichai, who also gave millions to local charities.
“For a long time, my father taught me to be strong and to take care of my family,” Aiyawatt said. “He loved his family. He made Leicester City into a family.
“And nothing would make him prouder than to see how the Leicester City family that he built is supporting each other through a time of such sadness.
“My dad had a way of teaching me about life and work without making it seem like a lesson. He was my mentor and role model.
“I miss you dad, with all of my heart.”
The Thai billionaire’s helicopter took off from the centre circle of the club’s King Power Stadium pitch around half an hour after Leicester’s 1-1 draw against West Ham on Saturday.
Just moments later it spun out of control and crashed into the stadium car park, with all five people on board killed, including the pilot.
Aiyawatt thanked the Leicestershire Police and emergency services for their help.
“Their fast response on Saturday kept a lot of people safe,” he said. “Their professionalism and sensitivity since then have made the last few days as bearable as they could be.”
Thousands of Leicester fans laid flowers and signed books of condolence at a memorial outside the stadium on Monday, following confirmation of the 61-year-old’s death.
Leicester’s League Cup game against Southampton, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed but the club will return at Cardiff in the Premier League on Saturday.
Britain’s Press Association reported the club will travel to Wales by bus on Friday, rather than by plane, after deciding that flying would be insensitive.
Both teams will wear black armbands and a minute’s silence will be observed before kick-off at the Cardiff City Stadium.
“My family and I would like to thank each and every one of you for your sincere kindness and good intentions during the most difficult time for us,” Aiyawatt said.
“What happened made me realise how important my dad was to many people all over the world and I’m touched by how many people kept him close to their hearts,” he added.
“I know that I will receive the support I need to make this happen and I am so grateful for all your messages and kind words.”