EPL: The Buddhist Monk who Blessed Leicester City

AFP

First published: May 3, 2016, 9:25 AM IST | Updated: May 3, 2016
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EPL: The Buddhist Monk who Blessed Leicester City
Thai Buddhist monk Phra Prommangkalachan holding a banner emblazoned with sacred patterns surrounding Leicester City Football Club's crest. (Getty Images)

The Buddhist monk who has blessed Leicester City's players and stadium was Tuesday swift to congratulate the Foxes after they sealed one of the biggest sporting shocks in history.

Phra Prommangkalachan, who has travelled to the once unfashionable Midlands club several times with the club's billionaire Thai owner, said he prayed all night for a famous Premier League title win.

It was secured after Tottenham Hotspur could only manage a 2-2 draw at Chelsea.

"I prayed for them from 2am till 4am (local time during the Chelsea-Spurs match)... but the victory does not come from me, it's from the team and the goodness of the owner," he told AFP.

The Foxes, virtual unknowns in Thailand until they were bought by duty-free magnate Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in 2010, have seen their popularity snowball during the title run-in.

Supporters at the downtown headquarters of Vichai's King Power firm spoke of their joy at the Thai link to a win in the Premier League which is assiduously watched in the kingdom.

"I am very pleased for my boss (Vichai)... Leicester's success will make Thailand famous around the world," Songkran Sae-Li, 38, a security guard at King Power told AFP.

While the majority of people in Thailand, which is six hours ahead of UK time, had been asleep as Spurs threw away a two-goal lead to hand Leicester the title, commuters were later keen to wax lyrical on a famous victory.

"I feel happy for Leicester... the team is small and it's the first time that they are the champion," said Twin Wichaidith, who has supported the team for five months, as he travelled on Bangkok's metro system.

"This will make Thais watch football more and the team will have more fans," he added.

The Foxes have seen their Thai fanbase grow from a smattering of die-hards to everyone's favourite second team.

English Premier League giants Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea traditionally draw a strong following.

But in a country where success engenders quick loyalty, Leicester can expect to see a surge numbers.

Shirts have already sold out and boozy big-screen events at the King Power complex in Bangkok have seen several hundred supporters gather each week to watch matches screened live.

Photographs lifted from social media of Leicester's players wildly celebrating victory were emblazoned across the "Siamese Foxes" fans' Facebook page.

Comments on the page, which has more than 500,000 followers, praised Vichai's ownership.

But some attributed the win to the supernatural powers of Buddhism in a deeply religious country.

"There goes the team that just won the league, the team that got sacred water sprinkled from a Thai temple," Huge Boripat wrote in Thai.

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