Bangkok - Leicester City's Thai vice-chairman insisted there
was no secret to their miraculous rise after they inched closer to a previously
unthinkable English Premier League title.
Hundreds of blue-shirted Thai fans watched Leicester's 4-0 win
over Swansea City live on big screens late into the night at an outdoor venue
in Bangkok as the Foxes opened up an eight-point lead at the top of the table.
Afterwards Aiyawatt 'Top' Srivaddhanaprabha, who is also
chief executive of Thailand's King Power duty-free empire, said Leicester's
rise is "very good for football and for people who love sport".
"I play sport as well and I understand that inspiration
from (striker Jamie) Vardy, inspiration from Leicester has inspired everyone in
the world," he said, in rare comments to media.
"We don't have a secret... the players... are trying so
hard, and the spirit in the team is so good."
Top's publicity-shy father Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha owns the
British club, but Top is hands on in running it as well as being the King Power
Leicester only narrowly survived relegation last year but
Claudio Ranieri's side have taken this season by storm with their high-energy,
Leicester's Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez became the first
African to be named England's Professional Footballer's Association player of
the year on Sunday, while the prolific Vardy has netted 22 times.
The Foxes, or 'Siamese Foxes', are now beginning to attract
fans in Thailand, where English Premier League giants Manchester United,
Liverpool and Chelsea traditionally command a strong following.
"We have 600 people come to celebrate and enjoy to
watch Leicester, the team that maybe seven years ago no one knew," said
"We try to tell Thais that you have your team and you
have your second team as Leicester, so every time Leicester play please
- Beer and karma -
Free beer helped draw the crowd but there was no mistaking
the enthusiasm as two goals from Leonardo Ulloa, and one each from Mahrez and
Marc Albrighton pushed Leicester closer to the trophy.
"We'll be champions no problem," enthused Auawut
Job, 42, who like many Thais professed to being a new convert to Leicester
"I was a Liverpool fan until three years ago, but
Liverpool have gone down... all Thais will support Leicester if they win the
league," he added.
The Srivaddhanaprabha family have been widely praised for
their judicious spending and appointments, which have taken Leicester to the
top of the Premier League.
Top was a key voice in Ranieri's hiring and that of former
boss Nigel Pearson, who left in the close-season despite a remarkable run of
games to survive relegation.
The departure came shortly after a sex tape scandal
involving three young fringe players -- including Pearson's son -- during a
summer tour of Bangkok.
The mystery of Leicester's rise is whether it has been case
of luck or canny judgement -- or both -- on the part of the owners.
Thai Buddhist monks certainly think good karma helps after
they were drafted in to bless the King Power Stadium pitch and hand out lucky
talismans to players.
Top said of his father: "He's a successful businessman
and he tried to challenge himself to get something done.
"This is one thing that in his dreams he wanted to own
the club, and he said I think two or three years before that he want the team
to be a success in the Premier League, and now we are."
He added: "As a son, I try to make the father and boss
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