When Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha bought Leicester City back in 2010, it was a story that did not interest Algerians in the slightest. The Foxes were struggling in League One, which is the third tier of English football.
Four years later, and the club sat comfortably in the Championship. Leicester then spend £400,000 on unknown prodigy Riyad Mahrez from Le Havre in the French lower leagues. Mahrez had not been capped by Algeria when he signed at the King Power Stadium.
But signing for Leicester changed Mahrez’s life. A superstar emerged on the Algerian football scene. He helped fire the Foxes into the Premier League, and went onto appear for the Desert Foxes at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The rest, as they say, is history. 2015/16 saw something unbelievable. Mahrez won Player of the Year as Leicester lifted the Premier League title for the first time in their history in what was arguably the greatest sporting achievement of all time.
This meant qualifying for the Champions League, and Vichai broke the record transfer fee at the club by spending £30million on Algerian striker Islam Slimani. Slimani started out at the 5th division in Algerian football, and was once again given the opportunity to shine on one of the biggest stages in football.
To this day, Slimani remains Leicester’s record transfer fee. Fast forward to 2018, and the third Algerian footballer in Vichai’s tenure is signed at the club. Rachid Ghezzal joins from Monaco and is then capped a month later by Algeria for the first time in three years.
What is remarkable is that Srivaddhanaprabha has done more for Algerian football in recent years than the Algerian Football Federation themselves, which is a credit to the 60-year-old. And as the reports of him and his helicopter crashing outside the King Power continue, all we can do is send our prayers and thoughts to him. All we know for sure right now, is that we owe him one big thank you – thank you, boss.