Monday 19 March 2018

Huge crowds for Leicester's Premier League title celebration

Thousands crammed into Victoria Park for the celebrations
Thousands crammed into Victoria Park for the celebrations

Almost a quarter of a million fans packed Leicester's streets to salute the Foxes' Barclays Premier League triumph as captain Wes Morgan admitted he struggled to take it in.

The team and boss Claudio Ranieri paraded the trophy on an open-top bus tour through the city with Leicester rock band Kasabian finishing the show at Victoria Park where thousands had gathered.

The club's official estimate was that around 240,000 watched the parade and flooded into Victoria Park, where the club's title party ended to raucous scenes.

Morgan and his team-mates set off from a packed Jubilee Square with the trophy - just two years after winning the Sky Bet Championship and only 12 months after beating relegation back to the second tier.

The skipper helped lead the Foxes to the top - where they finished 10 points ahead of second-placed Arsenal - and conceded it still feels like a dream.

"We shouldn't be in this position but we are. We are trying to let it sink in still, we are champions and we are going to embrace it. I feel very proud," he said.

"I'm a bit tired so I do want the season to end, it's been a long season but it's been an unbelievable one.

"Looking out you feel very proud, seeing all the people, flags, everyone enjoying themselves and it shows what we have achieved this season. I'm trying to let the moment sink in."

Leicester were 5,000-1 outsiders at the start of the season after Ranieri replaced Nigel Pearson in the summer.

Austria international Christian Fuchs, a summer signing, echoed Morgan's thoughts.

He said: "It's outstanding and just shows how much support we have. I cannot believe it yet. After the last game at Chelsea you kind of get a taste but I'm still not there that I can tell what happened. During the vacation and during the Euros I'll be able to realise.

"We have duties, the Euros are coming up. You can still be happy and have a little party but not extensive. We produced a lot of special moments."

Winger Marc Albrighton said the squad were blown away by the reception.

"We knew there would be a lot of people but we weren't expecting that," he said. "All the lads looked up and saw the long high street packed with people. It just went on for ages, a sea of blue. It is memories that will last a lifetime.

"We had girls lifting up their tops and people swinging on lampposts, people stood on ledges, hanging out of windows. People were standing on seven-storey ledges leaning over. You were scared for their lives but they were only doing it because they are interested in you and what we have done.

"We had been told to expect a lot of people in the park but you don't realise it until you are out there and you see it. You stand on the stage and say to yourself, 'wow'."

A party atmosphere had built throughout the day as supporters gathered to laud the team's remarkable achievements.

There was a big Italian contingent in the city to honour countryman Ranieri, who looked emotional when he arrived on stage at Victoria Park.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Ranieri said: "It's unbelievable. All the city is here. It's something special.

"I think this is because the team won but also played with heart and soul and the people understood this.

"I can only say thank you to all the people."

England striker Jamie Vardy said of Leicester's achievement: "It's still not sunk in but I'm sure it will over time. It's been an unbelievable achievement.

"When we got promotion from the Championship, obviously it wasn't as big as this - just look at the scenes, it's mad."

The club's Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who took over in 2010, could also be seen at the back of the bus smiling at the hordes of fans.

Once the squad reached Victoria Park, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, son of Vichai, looked close to tears as he made his way onto the stage.

Aiyawatt, known as Top, told the crowd: "I think we need a bigger stadium. From the owners, I want to thank you, you have been amazing this season and I hope we keep the support next season."

Ranieri, asked about the prospect of Leicester's first ever Champions League campaign next term, told the crowd: "Yes. Keep dreaming, keep dreaming. Don't wake up."

Press Association

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