Leicester City Fans Celebrate Premier League Win in Bangkok
BANGKOK -Â â€™s remarkable underdogÂ story has been embraced by football fans around the world.
But nowhere is this truer than in Thailand asÂ this yearâ€™s heroics of the Thai-owned club have attracted new legions of followers in a county where loyalties have traditionally been with Liverpool and Manchester United.
â€œLeicester, champions, champions,â€ chanted a group of motorcycle taxi drivers listening to the headlines on a radio, to the bemusement of some passing office workers heading to work, apparently oblivious to the drama.
â€œThis is a great day for Thailand,â€ said Somchai Wiratanawit, a fruit stand vendor. â€œThis success was a result of so many things. The team, the owner and the monks of course.
â€œLook at the players and how they have outperformed everyone else â€“ their fitness, their dedication, their strength,â€ said Mr Somchai. â€œThatâ€™s the role the monks played.â€
And the victorious team will visit Thailand â€œsoonâ€ to celebrate their triumph and show off the trophy, the ownerâ€™s son and club vice-chairman told Thai television.
Aiyawat Srivaddhanaprabha, known to all by his nickname â€œTopâ€, called in from England in the early hours of today to share the news with the Channel 3â€™s sports report.
He thanked the Thai fans for their support from afar for the team. â€œItâ€™s very impressive,â€ he said.
The celebrations in Thailand were put on temporary hold after the teamâ€™s 1-1 draw at Manchester United on Sunday left them just short of the title for another 30 hours.
Mr Vichai had thrown a free viewing party for fans to watch the game on giant televisions in the plaza outside his King Power business headquarters.
Several hundred gathered in the sweaty humidity of a Bangkok evening to cheer on a team many barely knew existed a couple of years ago. Just as many were shut out on the streets as the space rapidly reached capacity.
Thousand are expected to converge on the complex to watch Saturdayâ€™s game with Everton â€“ a match that will now turn into a worldwide celebration.
And when they do take their summer victory lap to Asia, Leicesterâ€™s owner and stars are certain to be greeted by a sea of blue shirts in a country that has taken the team to its heart.
The squad will be visiting Thailand soon, â€œTopâ€ said, and their visit would include a team trip to sign the visiting book of King Bhumipol, the countryâ€™s revered but ailing monarch.
The club will also be certain to ensure there is no repeat of the fiasco on their summer tour of Thailand last year when they were celebrating the great escape from relegation.
That trip ended in scandal after a video emerged of three young Leicester City players using racially offensive language in a sexual orgy with prostitutes.
The three players were quickly shipped out, as was the father of one of them â€“ then manager Nigel Pearson. His replacement Claudio Ranieri has overseen this seasonâ€™s fairy-tale on the pitch.
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