Leicester City owner a ‘phenomenal guy’, says colleague
A sport psychologist who worked with Leicester City during their Premier League winning season has said people do not know 10% of what Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha did for charity.
Ken Way admitted he shed a tear after hearing the news of the Leicester owner’s death in a helicopter crash after the team’s 1-1 draw with West Ham on October 27.
He told reporters the decision to postpone the Southampton match was the correct decision but the outpouring of grief from the players and the city meant there was a case for “getting back on the horse” against Cardiff on Saturday.
Mr Way said players such as goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel would have taken the news of Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s death hard as they had “a great deal of time for each other”.
Speaking of how he reacted to the news of Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s death, Mr Way said: “I knew Vichai and I have to say I have shed a few tears. He’s such a phenomenal guy.
“That’s a tough one. I would find that really really hard to talk about someone I knew personally.
“I always remember as a psychotherapist having a student come in who lost her dad about a year ago. I said to her, he lives in the synaptic gaps between the neurons, he lives here. We both shed a tear.”
He continued: “I totally understood about the Southampton match, there is no way the Southampton match could go ahead. I do see why there is a case for getting back on the horse. It’s tough, tough. You can see from the outpouring, not just in the city, but in the players.
“All the stories about what he did, charity-wise, giving away his money, I don’t think they know 10% of what he did.
“I did a talk on the outskirts of Leicester at an education establishment, I walked through the doors and there was a little plaque saying ‘this building was built with donations by Vichai’.
“My wife is Thai and she tells me that everything that we experienced about him was true exactly as he did in Bangkok. The guy is a one-off.”
Describing what Mr Srivaddhanaprabha was like while he was at the club, Mr Way said: “He was always there but never pushing. One word I used to describe him to people who didn’t know him, and I mean this positively, was ‘unassuming’.
“You have a guy who is a billionaire and he could throw his weight around but he never, never did that. He was such a sweet, gentle guy.
“He and the players, Kasper (Schmeichel) in particular, had a great deal of time for each other.”
He added: “Top, his son, is a fantastic guy as well and he will have to grow into his father’s shoes ahead of schedule.”
Addressing Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s role in Leicester’s Premier League win, Mr Way said: “Nigel Pearson was fantastic at building a culture at Leicester. I believe Leicester would have won the league with Nigel.
“What (Claudio Ranieri) did that I thought was fantastic, turned up at the pre-season tour with four coaches and support staff, obviously he thought quite rightly they might need replacing, but what he did that I thought was magnificent is he looked at them and sensed the culture, the positivity and he didn’t do anything.
“One of them disappeared and the other two very much took a peripheral back-seat role. There is a parallel with Vichai.
“Claudio didn’t go in and mix things up and say you have to play my style, he said this is a winning style let’s keep doing it.
“Vichai walked in and said I don’t need to change anything, I just need to make things a little better. I feel the two of them had a rather symbiotic relationship.”