Former Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has paid his respects to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha by visiting the ever-growing shrine to the club’s owner at the King Power Stadium.
The 67-year-old Italian oversaw Leicester’s Premier League title during the 2015-16 season.
Ranieri, who was in charge between 2015 and 2017, was accompanied by Srivaddhanaprabha’s son Aiyawatt as he laid a wreath for the Thai billionaire, who died in a helicopter crash outside the stadium shortly after Leicester’s match against West Ham on Saturday night.
Current boss Claude Puel gave a prepared statement as he faced the media for the first time since the crash on Saturday night.
“This has been without doubt one of the hardest weeks in the history of this football club,” he 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.”
He 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 grief counselling in the wake of the disaster, with players such as Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel among those to post emotional tributes online.
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.”
Although they are set to return to the pitch on Saturday, their playing commitments could clash with the funeral, which begins on Saturday and could last for up to a week.
However 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.”