LEICESTER CITY ambassador Alan Birchenall revealed how Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha gave him a job for life – after the Foxes’ legend ‘died’ for seven minutes while suffering a heart attack.
‘The Birch’ collapsed while on stage at a sports awards evening in 2017 and it was only the quick actions of a trained medic, who happened to be at the event, which saved the 73-year-old’s life.
Srivaddhanaprabha wanted to remove any stress from the Foxes’ fans’ favourite and personally promised he would be looked after at the King Power Stadium for the rest of his days, once he was back on the mend.
Birchenall, who takes to the pitch before every home game to welcome out the players, in his own inimitable style, said: “I came very close to not being here anymore and it really shook me.
“Vichai was so supportive of me. It was like I was a member of his direct family.
“He took away any worries I had about if I had a future at the club and gave me the chance to focus what strength I had on fulfilling my role at Leicester City.
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“That enabled me to make a good recovery in my own time and get back to full health. I will be forever indebted to him for that. He was an amazing man.
“In my time of need the club – and for me he WAS the club – nothing was too much trouble. They were incredible.”
Seven months before his scare, Birchenall was on the pitch celebrating with the club’s Thai owner, as they clutched the Premier League trophy.
“I will be forever indebted to him for that unbelievable moment too.
“It is not overstating to say that without Vichai that would not have happened. The club would not have lifted the title.
“We had been demoted to the third tier of football for the first time in our history and faced administration and had lots of tough times.
“Vichai arrived with his millions. But it was never just about the money. His genuine love for our club – and the people of this city and county – shone through.
“Vichai was the boss but under it all, he was just another Leicester City fan like all of us. He loved it when we won but he really did not like it when we got beaten.
“He made the impossible possible. He allowed us to dream and when we woke up it was real – we had won the league.
“What I hope is that Vichai’s son Top carries on his father’s work turning this club into a force in football. That would be amazing legacy for an amazing man.”