Football: Leicester's heroes arrive to huge welcome in owners' homeland

Kasper Schmeichel, Claudio Ranieri and Shinji Okazaki during their week-long visit to Thailand. Photo / Getty Images
Kasper Schmeichel, Claudio Ranieri and Shinji Okazaki during their week-long visit to Thailand. Photo / Getty Images

Just one day after their Premier League victory parade through the city centre, the Leicester City squad have arrived in Thailand for further celebrations in the home nation of the club's owners.

The players were mobbed as they arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, where Kasper Schmeichel, Claudio Ranieri and Shinji Okazaki greeted fans with a traditional Thai 'wai' gesture.

Captain Wes Morgan, left back Christian Fuchs and other members of the squad looked in good spirits ahead of the celebrations.

While a brass band performed Queen hit 'We Are The Champions', Thai dancers gave a special performance to greet the newly crowned Premier League champions.

Leicester will spend a week in Thailand and have made a number of visits since Chairman and Vice Chairman Vichai and Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha and King Power International took control of the Club six years ago.

'We've had some special receptions when we've arrived in Thailand in the past, but nothing like this. This is incredible,' Morgan told the club's official website.

'We're always extremely proud to come here and we know how much it means to the owners, who have done so much for us and for the entire club in the last six years.

'Since we won the title, we've been trying to take it all in and try to get some perspective on what it means to us and to other people. After the scenes in the streets of Leicester on Monday and this reception we've had today, it's starting to sink in. The impact is just frightening.'

Not all of Leicester's title-winning squad made the trip to Asia with England striker Jamie Vardy and France midfielder N'Golo Kante now gearing up for Euro 2016 this summer. Riyad Mahrez is also missing the visit.

Leicester right back Danny Simpson shared a picture via his Instagram account captioned 'We're off' as he sat on the plane next to his team-mate Jeffrey Schlupp.

Simpson was a key player for the Foxes' in their unlikely title glory as part of a back four that was breached only 36 times in 35 games, and was allowed to feature on the trip after curfew order was overturned last week.

After being named as 5000/1 outsiders before the season had started, Leicester took momentum from their incredible relegation escape under Nigel Pearson into the new season as the Foxes lost only once - 5-2 to Arsenal - by October.

But it was from then on where Leicester, with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez the main duo in front of goal, hit their higher gear. Eight wins from their next 10 games saw the Foxes two points clear at the top of the table by Christmas.

Still sat at the summit of the league by February, Ranieri's men looked unbeatable after earning a 3-1 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad. Despite a late Danny Welbeck winner at the Emirates inflicting only their third loss of the season, it was their rivals crumbling under the pressure and not Leicester.

Later earning 23 points out of a possible 27, and Leicester had the chance to win the league at Old Trafford. A 1-1 draw on the day postponed the inevitable, as Chelsea drew against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge which meant little Leicester were Champions of the Premier League for the first time.

Celebrations from players and fans alike went on into the night, even carrying on to the training ground the next morning as the squad prepared for their trophy presentation at home to Everton just a few days later.

The accolades and recognition continued for Leicester City's charismatic manager Claudio Ranieri, who was voted Premier League Manager of the Year and overall Manager of the Year at the League Managers' Association awards.

Ranieri left the title parade in Victoria Park early to catch a helicopter down to London where he was presented with the awards, which were voted for by his peers.

'As a player I was not a champion but I had great heart,' he told the audience.

'I told my players I wanted them to play English football and I put my little Italian tactics with their English heart and then we can do something special.

'It is a fairytale and I don't know what has happened. I don't know, believe me.'

'My congratulations go to the LMA Manager of the Year, Claudio Ranieri who, in his first year as manager of Leicester City, has achieved the most astonishing of sporting triumphs and thoroughly deserves all the recognition and praise being bestowed upon him tonight,' said LMA chairman Howard Wilkinson.

- Daily Mail

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