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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Players and mourners pay tribute to Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha - in pictures

Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel says Thai businessman 'literally made my dreams come true' as thousands gather outside King Power Stadium to pay their respects

A devastated Kasper Schmeichel led the tributes to the man who "changed football forever" after the tragic death of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha as the family of the late Thai billionaire paid tribute to him on Monday at the site where his helicopter crashed.

The 60-year-old Srivaddhanaprabha was among five people killed when his helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from the King Power Stadium on Saturday evening.

Srivaddhanaprabha's son and widow were seen laying a wreath among a sea of tributes from fans outside the stadium, including flowers, football scarves and Buddhist statues as investigators began examining the aircraft's black box.

Vichai's son Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, known as "Top", is chief executive of his father's duty-free empire King Power and also vice-chairman of the football club Vichai bought in 2010.

Air accident investigators also on Monday said they had recovered the helicopter's digital flight data recorder, which was subject to "intense heat" in a fire after the crash.

Denmark international Schmeichel, who was reported to have witnessed the accident, thanked Srivaddhanaprabha for making his football dreams come true in an emotional post on his Instagram account.

He said: "Dear Mr Chairman. I cannot believe this is happening. I am so totally devastated and heartbroken. I just cannot believe what I saw last night. It just doesn't seem real," he wrote.

"It is difficult to put into words how much you meant to this football club and to the city of Leicester. Never have I ever come across a man like you. So hard working, so passionate, so kind and so generous in the extreme.

"You changed football. Forever! You gave hope to everyone that the impossible was possible. You literally made my dreams come true.

"We now have a responsibility as a club, as players and fans to honour you. From knowing you we do this by being the family you created."

Schmeichel's powerful words were echoed by his teammates.

"Words can't describe how I feel. A truly great, kind, loving man who will be missed so much by everyone. I will never forget the Chairman's support, not only during my time @LCFC but also during the World Cup," England defender Harry Maguire wrote on Twitter.

Fellow City defender and England left-back Ben Chilwell hailed "one of the best people you could wish to meet".

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Read more:

WATCH: Family of Leicester City's late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha pay respects at stadium

Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha confirmed dead by local police

'There was a big bang': Helicopter belonging to Leicester City owner crashes near stadium

Helicopter crash at Leicester City football ground

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Writing on Twitter, he said: "I can't believe it. I am heartbroken to hear that no-one survived the crash yesterday.

"Vichai was one of the best people you could wish to meet. Making you happy made him happy, he was always smiling and laughing.

"What he did not just for this football club but for Leicester as a city is incredible! He has brought us all together. So now we must stay together as a city and achieve what he knew we could."

Jamie Vardy - whose meteoric rise through the leagues was matched step-by-step by the club as they came from nowhere to win the Premier League in 2016 - called Srivaddhanaprabha a "legend".

He said on Instagram: "Struggling to find the right words, but to me you are a legend, an incredible man who had the biggest heart, the soul of Leicester City Football Club. Thank you for everything you did for me, my family and our club. I will truly miss you, may you rest in peace."

Srivaddhanaprabha was the driving force of Leicester's rise from the Championship to the top of the Premier League, bringing together a band of nomadic players who were superbly guided by manager Claudio Ranieri.

Wes Morgan was the captain of that side and said: "Absolutely heartbroken and devastated regarding the news of our chairman. A man that was loved and adored by everyone here at LCFC and someone who I personally had the utmost respect for.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the families of the other victims of this tragedy."

The English Football Association turned the Wembley arch blue and white out of respect, while clubs all around the world, ranging from Real Madrid to non-league sides, paid tribute.