Brendan Rodgers revealed he and Leicester owner Khun Top bonded over a shared loss that made their FA Cup final celebrations all the more poignant.
Rodgers and chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, known as Top, spent time together on the Wembley pitch with the trophy after the Foxes’ 1-0 victory over Chelsea on Saturday.
The victory came five years after Leicester won the Premier League title under the ownership of Top’s father Vichai, who was killed in a helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium in October 2018.
Rodgers said: “It was just a special feeling. I’ve come into here two and a half years ago and virtually straight away I’ve had that sense of responsibility but also the support from them has been incredible really.
“And just knowing from a personal perspective, having lost my father, and knowing probably what he (Top) had been through, I think from the very first time we met that brought us really close together.
“That synergy has been there ever since really. We’re both very ambitious for the club. Thankfully he gets football. Not just as the owner but he actually gets football, he understands the ambition of what we can achieve.
“He also understands the competitors and he gives me every support I could ever want as a manager of a football club without inference whatsoever. He’s so supportive in every aspect.
“To be able to give him that, it’s obviously the first time (Leicester have won the FA Cup). Him and his father, it was a trophy that they really wanted to win so I was aware of that.
“To share that joy and see him so happy having been through so much, he’s had to get on with his life and live with that and try and be in that process of healing whilst being in the spotlight. Giving him that level of joy and happiness, it made me feel very good.”
It was the chairman who went home with the cup on Saturday night after celebrations that were more low key that they might have been, both because of ongoing coronavirus restrictions and the need for the Foxes to prepare for a crucial Premier League meeting with Chelsea on Tuesday.
There were, Rodgers revealed, “a few beers and some dodgy music” on the bus back to the training ground, where more food, drink and songs were shared.
The players were quick to set their sights on more silverware with Leicester, and Rodgers believes the cup triumph can be a watershed moment.
“Obviously historically and financially Leicester are maybe not up there with the biggest clubs but, from a football perspective, we would consider ourselves being in that process of being a big club,” he said.
“I said to them afterwards, now they know that feeling. Winning cups is different to winning the leagues. The cup is a real emotional time. Lots of the players became winners at the weekend and, once you’ve become a winner, that just activates something within you that wants you to have more of that.
“That’s something we reiterated ahead of the game. There’s a feeling it was great for Leicester City to be in the final, fantastic, but we were there to win. It’s good we have this hunger to push on and continue.”
While there is no trophy on the line on Tuesday, it is a huge match for both teams’ Champions League ambitions, and Rodgers feels the clash being on Tuesday rather Wednesday gives Chelsea the advantage.
“There’s no question that the game being on the Tuesday will benefit those squads that have a lot of the top-class players,” said the Foxes boss.
“They can rotate. Chelsea have one of the best squads in Europe. The extra day would have helped us but it doesn’t mean we’ll be any less prepared.”