English Premiership

Monk leads Thai praise for fantastic Foxes

2016-05-03 11:02
Leicester celebrate (AP)

Bangkok - The Buddhist monk who has blessed Leicester City's players and stadium said he prayed deep into the night as the Foxes pulled off one of the biggest ever sporting shocks by winning the English Premier League.

Phra Prommangkalachan, who has travelled to the Midlands club several times with its billionaire Thai owner, said he was praying during second-placed Tottenham Hotspur's 2-2 draw at Chelsea, which gave Leicester the title.

"I prayed for them from 02:00 till 04:00 (local time during the Chelsea-Spurs match)... but the victory does not come from me, it's from the team and the goodness of the owner," he told AFP.

The Foxes, virtual unknowns in Thailand until they were bought by duty-free magnate Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in 2010, have seen their popularity skyrocket during the title run-in.

Several hundred supporters in the deeply superstitious country, many wearing lucky amulets and other talismans, have flocked to screenings of recent matches at the vast downtown headquarters of Vichai's King Power firm.

Another party is expected in Bangkok for Saturday's visit of Everton to the King Power Stadium, where Leicester will hoist the trophy.

At the King Power complex in Bangkok on Tuesday, staff spoke of their joy at the Thai link to a win in the Premier League which is followed fanatically in the kingdom.

"I am very pleased for my boss (Vichai)... Leicester's success will make Thailand famous around the world," Songkran Sae-Li, 38, a security guard told AFP.

The majority of people in Thailand, which is six hours ahead of British time, were asleep as Spurs threw away a two-goal lead in dramatic style to hand Leicester the title. But workers were later keen to wax lyrical on the famous title victory.

Anan Sutchaliao, a Leicester fan and motorcycle taxi driver, hailed Chelsea's "miracle" comeback from two goals down to a seemingly rampant Spurs.

"Thank you Chelsea for making Leicester champions," he said.

The club has seen its Thai fanbase - known as the "Siamese Foxes" - grow from a smattering of die-hards to everyone's favourite second team.

English Premier League giants Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea traditionally draw a strong following.

But in a country where success can bring a quick switch in loyalties, Leicester can expect to see a surge numbers.

Shirts have already sold out and Leicester's owners are keen to tap into a large domestic pool of potential fans with public relations events and a Foxes' branded national academy.

"I feel happy for Leicester... the team is small and it's the first time that they are the champions," added Twin Wichaidith, who has supported the team for five months.

"This will make Thais watch football more and the team will have more fans," he added.

Photographs lifted from social media of Leicester's players wildly celebrating victory were emblazoned across the a Thai fans' Facebook page.

Comments on the page, which has more than 500 000 followers, praised Vichai's ownership.

But some in the devoutly religious country attributed the win to the supernatural powers of Buddhism.

"There goes the team that just won the league, the team that got sacred water sprinkled from a Thai temple," Huge Boripat wrote in Thai.

Read more on:    leicester  |  english premiership  |  soccer


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