Leicester City emerged this weekend not only as the winner of the FA Cup, but also the champion of the game all football fans have fallen in love with.
By beating Chelsea to win the first FA Cup in their history, Leicester has announced himself as the antidote to the money-hungry plague that delights football – proof that the game should be about the fans, not the finances.
I can’t have been the only person in tears watching Brendan Rodgers kiss club owner Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha.
All eyes were on Khun Top throughout the game, with TV cameras often flipping back to the Foxes owner who took over from his late father to guide Leicester to greater success – always against all odds.
And yet the owner did not attract attention.
Full time, with their cup success confirmed, there was a fist pump from the owner before he looked up to the sky, hands clasped in a prayer-like gesture, as he took a moment to remember his beloved father, Khun Vichai. .
One of the fan-unoccupied Wembley booths carried a huge banner of the late owner, while in the construction manager Rodgers explained how he and the team played in Vichai’s memory and sought to make him proud by lifting a another trophy.
After letting players have their moment, celebrating in front of cheering returning supporters for the first time in too long, and lifting the FA Cup in a flurry of white and blue banners and fireworks, the Thai businessman s ‘is discreetly introduced into the field.
It wasn’t until goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel noticed him and got involved in the celebrations as well. He hugged player after player before walking over to Rodgers, who met in a long hug.
It was a magnificent moment, but perhaps what made it even more special was that it was in stark contrast to what is happening elsewhere in the Premier League and in European football at large.
Manchester United protests against the Glazers, Arsenal’s anger at Stan Kroenke, Liverpool fans criticizing FSG’s greed, Tottenham supporters even took to the streets of north London hours before kick-off. the FA Cup final to tell ENIC and Daniel Levy to get lost, with mocking banners. the club’s motto: “To dare is too expensive”.
And yet here we have an owner who is also loved by fans and their heroes on the pitch, who just won the club’s very first FA Cup in 137 years of history.
While the Premier League’s ‘big six’ all have ambitions seemingly beyond the Premier League and the Champions League, with their failed European Super League plans, Leicester has quietly proven why football is known as from “ The Beautiful Game ”.
An unlikely and historic Premier League title win and now an FA Cup victory in the span of six seasons, they are no longer the underdogs of other fans and maybe those other clubs believe them.
They’re making their way into the Premier League’s top four clubs, and they’re doing it the way we all want them to. No mega millions spent, no unnecessary overspending and big flops.
King Power has a devotion to his club that is probably unmatched in the entire Premier League. They’ve invested in the club’s facilities, believed in a manager, invested in the right players and built a squad that is proving a nuisance to the rest of the big English boys.
It’s an owner / manager, owner / player and owner / fan relationship that every fan dreams of.
Khun Vichai and now Khun Top are no longer “Silent Stan”, they are very present leaders of a club, and their success could not be more deserved.
Now is the time for the rest of the league owners to stand up and take notice.
As Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport, while Khun Top hugged Rodgers like a brother: “In a time when relationships between owners, players and fans are so fractured, see what we see here is so refreshing.
“I don’t think there is a club more connected from top to bottom than what we see with this club.”
“There will be some great clubs out there, and some that I have played for that will be jealous and envious of these owners,” added former Chelsea and Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole.
“You can be absent owners, but that’s what you want, that’s football, the collaboration between everyone at the club.
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“It’s like Sir Alex Ferguson said, everyone has to point in the right direction and this club is getting everyone towards the man, woman and child in the right direction.
“I don’t think you’ll see another owner come out onto the lot and be loved like this man was loved, kissed like he was.
“They support the club, they support the managers and there is a face, that is the difference,” said Ferdinaind.
“I think there are many other owners who can take that into account.”