Alan Birchenall

The Birch's Tribute To Khun Vichai

Leicester City’s Club Ambassador Alan ‘The Birch’ Birchenall has penned the first in a new series of fortnightly personal columns on LCFC.com. This week, he remembers Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, our beloved former Chairman, who would have celebrated his 62nd birthday today (Saturday).

Like all Leicester City fans – and Leicester people in general – I’ll be sparing a thought for Khun Vichai and his wonderful family today on what would have been his 62nd birthday.

Khun Vichai captured the heart of our city. I’ve said this so many times before, but I remember when he came to the training ground in 2010 and I said: ‘Here we go again!’

We’d had such a hard time – for such a long time – but I was so wrong. It was that day, when Khun Vichai and his lovely family joined us, that the Football Club changed forever.

It’s been an unimaginable transformation – and that’s all because of Khun Vichai. Nothing but the best would do for our football club under Khun Vichai and, now, Khun Top.

The life-long memories I shared with Khun Vichai and still do with his son means so very much to me. They became almost like members of my immediate family.

They embraced the Football Club and the city as their own people. It chokes me up just to think about it.

For those of you not lucky enough to meet Khun Vichai, let me just share one quick story, which I think sums up his sense of humour.

I remember he once said to me: ‘Birchy, how old are you?’

‘How old do you think I am, Chairman?’ I replied.

He said: ‘About 90, but you act about 20!’ 

To be fair to him, he’d got me down to a T!

Whenever he’d come down to the training ground to see the manager, Jon Rudkin and Andrew Neville, he’d always find the time to stick his head in my little room down there.

He was the kind of person who would just come in to have a chat and the next thing you know, you’ve missed your lunch because we were nattering away!

He was a gentleman. So many of the things he did for our city, he didn’t want to shout about, he didn’t want the attention. He just wanted to help people if they needed help.

I remember after my annual charity runs, where the Blue Army always dig deep into their pockets, whatever the total was, the Boss and Khun Top would usually top it up.

If I’d raised £46,000, they’d put it up to £50,000. If it was £61,000, it would then be £70,000.

There are so many memories of Khun Vichai for me. You can’t imagine how much he loved the Club. He was a bit like me in way – but let me explain what I mean by that!

I don’t want to blow my own trumpet here because the Boss is the Boss. What I mean is: he wasn’t born in Leicester, and neither was I, but we were both adopted by the city.

To come from Thailand, his beautiful home country, to Leicester and spread so much positivity and joy to thousands of people, he will never, ever be forgotten around here.

Whenever you hear a new story about his generosity, usually towards people he’d never even met, rest assured that there are more which you may never find out about.

He was that kind of man. We loved him and he loved us back, with all his heart.

Please join me this weekend in raising a toast of happy water (if you’re old enough!) to our wonderful former Chairman.

I’ll be doing that on Saturday to say thank you to him for giving me the best 10 years of my life. You’ll never be forgotten, Boss.

Stay safe and follow the guidance we’ve been given to stay at home. It’s so important.

I know how brilliant the NHS are and they need our help more than ever.

Take care,

The Birch.

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