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Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill pays tribute to 'phenomenal' Leicester owner Srivaddhanaprabha

 

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Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who died in a helicopter crash on Saturday. (Mike Egerton/PA Images)

Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who died in a helicopter crash on Saturday. (Mike Egerton/PA Images)

PA Archive/PA Images

Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who died in a helicopter crash on Saturday. (Mike Egerton/PA Images)

REPUBLIC of Ireland boss, and former Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill has described Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha as an 'incredible gentleman' after the Leicester owner died in a helicopter crash on Saturday night.

Srivaddhanaprabha, 61, died when his helicopter spiralled out of control into a staff car park shortly after taking off from the King Power Stadium after Leicester's 1-1 draw with West Ham on Saturday.

Two members of his staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, and pilot Eric Swaffer and his partner Izabela Roza Lechowicz were also killed in the incident.

Srivaddhanaprabha bought the club in 2010 and was a prominent figure throughout that time, including during their incredible against-the-odds Premier League title win in 2015-16.

His generosity also extended beyond the club, with the Thai businessman making considerable donations to Leicester hospitals and universities.

O'Neill, who managed Leicester from 1995 to 2000 and won the League Cup twice with the club, said the loss of Srivaddhanaprabha would be felt by the whole community, not just the football club.

"He went into the community, he made donations to the universities, donations to the hospitals, and the Leicester people took to him," O'Neill told BBC Radio Ulster.

"You can see that outpouring of grief at the moment, it's as genuine as they come, and I think that speaks volumes for the man that we're talking about.

"This was a normal practice for the owner to come in, park the helicopter in the middle of the pitch and everybody thought it was great. The very fact is he was just an incredible gentleman as well, his popularity was far beyond Leicester but Leicester would have taken the bulk of that.

"For the disaster to happen so close to the football club is very difficult to take in at the moment. It's a desperate day.

"The winning of the Premier League a couple of years ago was absolutely phenomenal and the manager has to take great credit for that. But let's be fair, I don't think any of that would have happened had it not been for the owner. I think all of Leicester are well aware of that.

"He gave them the opportunity, he gave them everything that they needed - a fantastic achievement and one that was well merited."

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