Asia

Leicester City arrive in Bangkok to heroes' welcome

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Media captionThe BBC's Jonathan Head says Leicester City's unexpected success has delighted Thailand's football fans

Members of Premier League-winning team Leicester City have arrived in Bangkok for a celebratory tour.

Leicester City, who rose from likely relegation to league champions in just one season, are owned by Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who arranged their visit.

Players and staff were welcomed to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport by cheering supporters.

On Monday, more than 240,00 people watched them parade in their home town.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The club had few fans in Thailand until their fairytale season

Team coach Claudio Ranieri and captain Wes Morgan were among the players who made the trip to Thailand.

However midfielder Riyad Mahrez was not among the line up, nor were Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy who had been called up for international duties.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Many Thai fans of Leicester either switched Premier League team allegiances, or now support two teams

Support for the Foxes, as they are known, has gained momentum across Thailand, as football supporters have slowly started to shift away from popular clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool.

The club remained largely unknown in Thailand until it was bought over by Mr Srivaddhanaprabha six years ago.

The brand of his duty-free company King Power features prominently on the players' blue jerseys, with the club's home stadium also named after the company.

"Now I'm half Liverpool, half Leicester", said 20-year-old Max Akkhapracha, speaking to AFP. "It was a very exciting season, winning the Premier League was just amazing."

Leicester won the league 10 points above nearest rivals Arsenal, and will contest next season's Champions League competition against the best clubs in Europe.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Team manager Claudio Ranieri shook hands with ecstatic supporters at the airport
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Among the team members travelling to Thailand was Wes Morgan, who plays as defender and is captain of The Foxes
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Leicester City's 30-year-old Shinji Okazaki also plays for the Japan national football team as a forward
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption According to the BBC's Jonathan Head, Leicester's unexpected success has given Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's company, King Power, a golden opportunity to promote itself
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Leicester City will display the premier league trophy at the headquarters of King Power, where the company had put up TV screens for fans to watch the team's final games.

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