• Team aim to ‘honour and remember’ Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
• Manager says owner ‘made the club a family and made a dream’
Claude Puel addresses the media on Thursday. Leicester’s manager said: ‘We will play to honour and remember a man who did so much for our club.’ Photograph: Plumb Images//Leicester City FC via Getty Images
Claude Puel has said Leicester City are “numb and in shock” after the death in a helicoper crash of the club’s owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, and four other people.
The manager, speaking for the first time since the accident last Saturday, said he intended to give his players the chance to attend Vichai’s funeral, which begins on Saturday in Thailand and could last for up to a week.
“This has been without doubt one of the hardest weeks in the history of this football club,” Puel said. “The tragic loss of five lives has left us numb and in shock and our prayers and love remain with Vichai’s family and with the all of the families who have lost a loved one.
“Vichai made Leicester City into what it is. He made it a family and made a dream. He invested in the club, the city and he invested in the people.
“He truly was loved by everyone inside and outside the club. Personally it was a privilege to work for him. It was a privilege for the faith he showed in me and the moments we shared. To see all of the messages and the flowers and shirts outside the stadium this week show how many lives he touched.”
Puel, whose team play at Cardiff on Saturday, added: “He leaves behind a legacy that will be remembered forever and his vision for the club that myself as manager we take forward.
“I have never been prouder to be manager of this club. In such difficult circumstances – from staff, players and fans, they have shown what a special club this is.
“Playing football has not been on our minds this last week but for this weekend and all matches after we will play to honour and remember a man who did so much for our club.”
Leicester players and staff have been offered counselling. Puel said: “A lot of people have been made available to help the players and staff and I think everyone’s reaction to this event is different and we have to understand that people can have a different reaction but we put in place all the help necessary for all the people.”
On the subject of Vichai’s funeral Puel said: “I want to give players the opportunity to go if they want to but I don’t know about the logistics. But the players want to go and support Vichai’s family.”