Jamie Vardy has spoken publicly for the first time since the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
Vardy and his Leicester team-mates have posted regular messages online, paying tribute to the man they called ‘The Boss’, and the former England man has opened up on how he found out about the accident after the 1-1 draw against West Ham.
“I was just on my way home with my wife and kids and I got the news,” he told Sky Sports. “Obviously straight away it’s shock and you can’t really believe it’s happened.
“You try to get in touch with everyone but no-one was picking up their phones so that’s when I knew something was different.”
He added: “The relationship was exactly how you’ve seen it put out there. He wasn’t just a chairman, he literally was part of your extended family.
“It didn’t matter who you was, he always made time for you, and as all the pictures that have been put out have shown, he was always smiling. Those are the things you will never forget and which will stay engraved in your mind.
“From day one, literally from when I first met him, up until now he’s always been really friendly and always wanting to be involved. He wasn’t just a chairman he was part of the squad itself and was always here and always giving you encouragement and wanting to be involved with the lads and that’s credit to him.”
Manager Claude Puel said on Thursday that he would give the players the opportunity to travel to Thailand for the funeral, which is due to begin on Saturday, and Vardy is keen to be there.
He said: “It’s been the hardest week of everyone’s lives. It’ll be massively important we attend, we are a close-knit group and one big family and one of the main reasons for that is Vichai so it’s massively important.”
On the Cardiff game, which is set to go ahead on Saturday following the postponement of the Carabao Cup tie against Southampton, Vardy said: “We all spoke about wanting to play, it’s what Vichai would’ve wanted and that’s what we are going to do.
“We need to make sure we go out there and honour his name and put in a performance that will hopefully get the win. I know people are saying the result doesn’t matter but for us as players we want to get a positive result.
“It’s going to be tough and very emotional and what the lads wanted to do was play this game and honour the man himself.
“The main thing is we all come together even stronger and do Vichai proud.”