(Reuters) - Leicester winger Marc Albrighton said the team were “emotionally drained” after a week in which they flew to Thailand for the funeral of their late owner and then returned to the stadium where he died to play Burnley in front of still-grieving supporters on Saturday.
“Everybody here is emotionally drained,” said Albrighton after a 0-0 draw in the Premier League match. “You’re tired in your head and your legs, from everything that’s happened. It was one of the hardest games I’ve ever played.”
Leicester’s players paid moving tributes to Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who was one of five people killed in a helicopter crash immediately after the club’s previous game.
At the end of Saturday’s draw, the players walked round the stadium with Vichai’s son Aiyawatt, the vice-chairman, as the crowd chanted his father’s name and raised scarves in tribute. Each player wore a special commemorative shirt.
The afternoon had been raw with emotion from the moment thousands of supporters marched from the city centre to the ground in his honour.
The players missed training in midweek to fly to Thailand for Vichai’s funeral and looked jaded after the 19,000-km round trip.
“This week has been hard,” said Albrighton. “We went to Thailand and paid our respects to Vichai and his family. It is something we felt we wanted to do.
“It is a tough time for everyone but everyone has done their part. Every single person at this club has stuck together.
“It’s extraordinary the way the fans have come together. Leicester fans have been brilliant for us and we need them. It’s going to be a tough road. It’s hard to focus.”
Leicester manager Claude Puel said he was proud of the way his players had coped with such a testing occasion.
“It was a tough week to prepare this game without training sessions and a long journey to Bangkok. The players compensated with desire,” he said.
“I would like to congratulate the players because it was difficult. I hope we can continue this response to honour our chairman.”
While all the attention was inevitably focused on Leicester, Burnley manager Sean Dyche said the day had also been difficult for his team.
“To be honest, it was difficult for all of us,” he said. “They gave everything and we had to try and match that, which we did. It was a strange one in that it’s very rare for the result to be irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. The game was more about a show of respect.
“The whole build-up to the week was full of respect and feeling from us. It’s resonated across football, what has happened.”
Reporting by Neil Robinson; editing by Clare Fallon