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Leicester City’s ’good karma’: the Buddhist monks behind the Foxes’ divine play

Wednesday 4 May 2016

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All the versions of this article: [English] [Español] [français] [Português]

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The temple’s assistant abbott holds an LCFC banner, which is adorned with sacred patterns

 
From supremely gifted players on the pitch to the tactical vision of the manager and coaching staff and the passionate support of the fans, it takes many people to win English football’s ultimate prize.
 
But if Leicester City beat Manchester United at Old Trafford to complete their fairy tale story conquest of the Premiership there will be one other, rather more unusual group of supporters to thank – a collection of Buddhist monks from Thailand.
 

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Captain Wes Morgan receives a blessing from a monk before a match

 
The blessings of the monks, from the Wat Traimit Withayaram Woraviharn (Golden Buddha) Temple, in Bangkok, are being credited with adding a divine element to the team’s play.
 
About 10 monks from the temple are flown to Britain for most home games by the club’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha to bless the players before the kick-off, before spending the match deep in meditation in a specially designated room at Leicester City’s King Power stadium.
 

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Top goalscorer Jamie Vardy speaks to a monk

 
Here - at a special shrine surrounded by Buddhist statues and hangings installed by Mr Vichai - the monks, led by Assistant Abbott Phra Prommangkalachan, offer the players what they call “spiritual support”.
 
That support continues during the team’s away games, such as today’s, when the monks chant and pray for the team at their temple in Bangkok’s Chinatown district, where the Leicester’s billionaire owner has been a devotee for several years.
 

“This is not about magic,” Phra Prommangkalachan, who became a monk at the age of 15, told The Telegraph. “We can only offer spiritual support. We believe that helps the players with their good health, with avoiding injuries, with their focus. But they must still perform well.”
 
He has regularly led delegations of his fellow holy men, dressed in saffron robes, to bless Leicester City since Mr Vichai, who built his fortune on a string of duty free shops, bought the then struggling second tier outfit in 2010.
 
Although they do not watch the games while praying at the club’s shrine, the fans outside do a good job of letting them know which way the game is going.
 
“We know how Leicester are doing because the cheers and chanting rocks the room,” said Phra Prommangkalachan, 64. “We feel the vibrations.”
 
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