Demarai Gray’s emotional tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the late owner of Leicester City, after scoring a goal in a 1-0 victory over Cardiff City on Saturday struck a chord with football fans.
The striker looked up to the sky and revealed a special message under his jersey which read “FOR KHUN VICHAI.”
It has also been an emotional week for former Leicester City player Matt Mills, who currently plays for FC Pune City in the Indian Super League (ISL).
“I was actually sent a newspaper article by my wife of an online newspaper. I just read the headline and I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. I spoke to my wife’s father, Matthew Stephen Elliott, who is an ex-Leicester player, and he was actually leaving the stadium and saw the event unfold. It’s just horrendous,” said Mills, who spent the 2011-12 season with the Foxes.
Mills spoke about how eager the club had been to get him on board. “I was signed after the play-offs with Reading. Leicester were very ambitious at the time when I was going to the Wolves in the Premier League, but Leicester really pushed the bow out and made an offer for me to come. They showed me the vision that they wanted to club together and that was something I wanted to be part of. I went and worked with Sven-Göran Eriksson, with whom I had worked with at Manchester City. It was the right decision for me to move to Leicester,” he said.
Mills laid emphasis on the help he received from Srivaddhanaprabha at a time when he was struggling to find his feet in professional football.
“At the age I was back then, it was a big time in my career to get some financial security and once I joined the club and spoke to the owner, he was very keen to make sure that my family and I were looked after from there on and if there was anything he could do going forward. He made his intentions very clear. He wanted to bring me to the club and make me feel part of the family.”
The FC Pune centre-back described Srivaddhanaprabha as the backbone of the club who left no stone unturned in holding it together as a family. “He’d come in to chat with you individually or in a group. He’d take the team out for team bonding sessions,” he said.
Mills is grateful for his time with Leicester and Srivaddhanaprabha, whose death saw thousands of fans arriving at the King Power Stadium to pay their respects.
“He was a very selfless man. He’d express to all the guys that it is just not about money, it was about giving back too,” said Mills, adding that the former owner was also a staunch believer of giving back to the community and had funded various charities in Leicester.
With a day at a horse racing course being his best memory with Srivaddhanaprabha, Mills paid tribute to him.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and my family. Thank you for how many people’s lives you’ve contributed to and made them positive. It’s our job now and the club’s job to make sure that your legacy lives on,” he said.
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