Football

High praise for Leicester City's Top chairman

Leicester players and staff make Thai chairman a centrepiece of their celebrations after first FA Cup triumph

Former Liverpool and England midfielder Danny Murphy hailed Leicester City chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, also known as "Top", after the Foxes won their first FA Cup by beating favourites Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Thai was ushered onto the pitch to join the celebrations by vice-captain Kasper Schmeichel and was engulfed in warm embraces by players and staff alike as they passed him the FA Cup trophy to hold aloft.

He took over the reins at the club from his father Vichai, who tragically died in a helicopter accident outside the King Power Stadium in 2018.

Murphy wrote in his Daily Mail column: "The image of Leicester City's owner, the son of their late chairman who died three years ago, looking up to the heavens encapsulated... just how much the FA Cup means.

"This was a win that is good for football. Five years on from them winning the Premier League, for this club to keep winning, to keep punching above their weight shows you what togetherness, good coaching, astute recruitment, and proper ownership can do."

Ex-Gunners' and England striker Ian Wright admitted that he watched the scenes with a tinge of jealousy, considering the fractious relationship between Arsenal's owners, the Kroenkes, and fans, which has only worsened with the failed European Super League bid.

He said on the BBC: "The jealousy I feel, knowing an owner can be like that... honestly, it breaks my heart.

"I'm absolutely delighted for Leicester and him."

The Foxes' upset triumph came on the back of Youri Tielemans' stunning long-range winner in the 63rd minute and an excellent goalkeeping performance by Schmeichel.

DREAM COME TRUE

"I've dreamt about this since I was child," said the 34-year-old Dane, whose father Peter won three FA Cups with Manchester United.

"We have talked about wanting to win trophies. The performance today, the grit and determination, I'm so proud of everybody, everybody contributed to get to the final."

The English Premier League's all-time topscorer Alan Shearer called Schmeichel's performance "incredible".

He said on the BBC: "The first one from Ben Chilwell, he gets down to his right quickly. He just managed to claw it out.

"(The second was) the best one, absolutely incredible. You can see the disappointment on Mason Mount's face. He doesn't see it until late."

Even when Schmeichel was eventually beaten, Chilwell's late equaliser against his boyhood club was ruled out by the video assistant referee (VAR).

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was critical of VAR. In the build up to the Foxes' winner, the ball had appeared to deflect off Ayoze Perez's leg and onto his arm.

Said Tuchel: "The players said straight away it was a handball.

"So now for the second game in a row there was a handball against us, and VAR is not interfering. Against Arsenal, there was one on the line, and again today, and they are very decisive...

"We were unlucky today."

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