Kasper Schmeichel: Cardiff match was like a cup final for Leicester

Kasper Schmeichel: Cardiff match was \like a cup final\ for Leicester

Claude Puel has no complaints about Demarai Grays booking for Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha tribute

Claude Puel says referee Lee Probert was right to show Demarai Gray a yellow card for his shirt-off goal celebration in tribute to Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Gray struck a 55th-minute winner on an emotional afternoon in Cardiff and marked it by removing his top and revealing an undershirt with the words For Khun Vichai on it.

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Thai businessman Srivaddhanaprabha and four others were killed in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium last weekend.

The Denmark international has since played more than 300 games for the Foxes and was a huge figure in Leicesters 2015-16 title-winning season, when they triumphed despite having odds of 5,000-1 at the start of the campaign.

•City win 1-0 in first game since death of owner Vichai• Players and staff flew to Bangkok for funeral afterwards

“I was just really glad to have won, because for someone to have an impact on so many lives is quite unique. The impact hes had on my family has been amazing and Im proud to be part of his family.”

Video: Emotional Kasper Schmeichel on Leicester owner

Schmeichel kept a clean sheet on an emotional afternoon that served as a tribute to the late Leicester owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, and the four others who died with him in last weekends helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium. The 31-year-old had received counselling during the week and was in tears during the pre-match minutes silence, but responded with a performance full of guts and resilience.

The most poignant scenes came after the football ended. Cardiffs fans had left the stadium the way casual mourners depart, leaving the next-of-kin some time on their own. Leicesters 3,000 fans remained where they had stood for the previous two hours, the teams players and staff gathered close to them. They clapped. They sang. They chanted. They remembered Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

We have had some great times, Schmeichel said of his teams exploits under Vichais eight-year ownership. It felt like a cup final. I havent really known a feeling like it on the pitch. I am really glad to have won … I think everyone is relieved more than anything.

Read more [The day was] emotional, yes, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives you a certain strength. It is an emotional day and an emotional time but there was no question I was going to play.

Grays booking provoked a fierce debate on social media, with many fans believing the referee should have ignored the letter of the law and not brandished a yellow card given the highly-charged and emotional circumstances.

Video: Leicester pay tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Schmeichel confirmed he had witnessed the horrifying moment when the helicopter transporting Vichai fell to the ground shortly after taking off. Eyewitness reports suggested he sprinted out of the stadium in an attempt to assist and he said the experience is one that will never leave him.

Match official Lee Probert cut a glum figure when he realised he had to book Demarai Gray for taking his shirt off while celebrating, which revealed a touching tribute to Leicesters late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Referee Lee Probert looks gutted as he realises he has to book Demarai Gray for taking his shirt

I spoke to somebody [for support], he said. I was on the pitch, I waved him off, I saw it all happen. It was something that will stay with me, unfortunately. But the club have been great and everybody has received the support they need. It is not a nice memory but I have had all the support I need.

Leicester goalkeeper Schmeichel, who was part of a delegation from the club who arrived in Bangkok on Sunday to pay their respects to Srivaddhanaprabha, witnessed the accident following the Premier League game with West Ham.

Kasper Schmeichel fears memory of helicopter crash will stay with him forever

Leicester saw out the win with few alarms after Demarai Grays 55th-minute goal, defending resolutely amid spells of Cardiff pressure. Schmeichel explained it had not been an occasion for intricate strategies and that the emphasis had been on mastering the intense feelings that had occupied them.

The Denmark international has since played over 300 games for the Foxes and was a huge figure in Leicesters 2015-16 title-winning season, one of the most remarkable underdog success stories in the whole of sport.

There was no real need for gameplans or tactics, he said. It was just about controlling our emotions. We talked about having to just stick together and be what we have always been – a family. We talked about how proud we are of being here, of being part of what he has built.

Read more The squad and staff travelled to Bangkok straight from Cardiff to attend Vichais funeral and their manager, Claude Puel, knows there will be difficult times after their return. Leicester host Burnley in what is likely to be another highly-charged occasion on Saturday and Puel believes the current experience will change them. They are growing as people and its a good thing, he said. Afterwards we will not be the same men and I think together we have to move on, to manage this emotion, and to keep the right way.

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