With assistance of some Thai Buddhist monks, Leicester City football team have become champions of English football.
The triumph of Leicester over four of the world’s richest football clubs has captured the imagination of football fans and sporting enthusiasts worldwide.
A year ago this struggling team propped up all the other teams in the Premiership. They were seven points adrift and looked bound for the big drop. They got out of that hole leaving them favourites to get relegated this season.
Betting shops offered 5000 – 1 on Leicester winning the league. That’s one year in every 5000 years to get to the top or winning £250,000 for betting £50
Thai billionaire owner of Leicester Football Club, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. a duty-free magnate, flew Buddhist monks frequently to the ground to bless the players, the pitch, the staff and the club. The Venerable Phra Prommangkalachan regularly placed his hands on the heads of individual players to bring calmness, peace of mind and energy before the match. The monks travelled from Wat Traimit Withayaram Woraviharn (Golden Buddha) Temple in Bangkok, to meditate in the club and give blessings.
While Leicester played the match, the monks meditated in the meditation room that the Thai owner installed near the dressing room. The monks said they always knew when Leicester scored because the cheering from the fans vibrated right into the room as they meditated. Before the match, the Thai owner, a devoted and practising Buddhist, meditates for 45 minutes with the monks.
Plenty of Leicester fans found it all a little incredulous to read about the monks blessing the players, chanting, meditating, offering amulets and generating peace and harmony around the entire club for all the employees.
The fans believed last August that if their beloved team stayed in the Premier league, it would be a miracle. At the start of the season, some Leicester fans said if they won the league, they would become Buddhists.
The football team reflects the town which is considered the most multicultural town in Britain, while the town, itself, has the lowest divorce rate in the country. The whole town currently celebrates as congratulations pour in from around the world.
Initially, the players also were not sure about the blessings and words of wisdom of the monks but the team kept winning and the monks kept coming to establish a ‘positive force’ in the club.
What the Thai Monk said
The senior monk said: “We offer spiritual support to the team. Meditation is all about making the mind as neutral as possible and avoiding excitement and disturbance.
“You must not let winning or losing interrupt this process.”
When Leicester played away, the monks from the Golden Temple in Bangkok chanted for the team during the match.
The monk told the BBC that Leicester won the league due to teamwork, development of harmony throughout the club and everybody supporting each other.
Initially, the team found the presence of Buddhist monks an unusual approach to prematch formalities in the dressing room. The team played with such concentration and rarely got lost in excitement and disturbance.
The Buddha said calmness, happiness, equanimity and unity contribute to concentration. Leicester has shown the capacity to stay concentrated for the 90 minutes of the game and that made a major contribution to their great season.
One of the Leicester staff said it was “obviously unusual for a football club owner to bring along Buddhist monks to games, but now everyone is used to it”
Leicester manager, Claudio Rainieri, exudes a similar manner as the monks. He is calm, unassuming, gracious and never blames referees and other teams. He exudes a Buddhist equanimity and fits in beautifully with the vision of the Thai owner of the club for an atmosphere of a cooperation rather than individual stars.
In his manager’s office at the start of the season, Claudio placed a photograph of every manager in the Premiership so they would all feel welcome when they came to the club to play against Leicester. Such gestures are called an act of metta (loving kindness) in the Buddhist tradition.
Football at home on a Saturday night
Good friend, housesitter and ensurer of ongoing maitenance of my home, Peter McG and I religiously sit in the front room on a Saturday night to watch Match of the Day at 22.30 on BBC television, which shows the highlights of all the days’ games in the Premier league.
Leicester were amazing. Once they secured the ball, the whole team (apart from the Danish goalkeeper) moved forward at breath-taking speed with Rihad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy making darting runs spitting up opposing teams and sharing exquisite passes.
Vardy was rejected by another club in his teens for being too small and Mahrez was told he was too thin for the intensity of English football.
Leicester had the third lowest possession of the ball of any team in Premier League. During a match, they stayed mindful of the other team, waited patiently to secure the ball and passed the ball with incredible speed and accuracy toward the opposing team’s goal.
Thrilling football. They played the beautiful game at its electric best. Fans of opposing teams would applaud Leicester at the end of a game for their passion, commitment and teamwork.
Leicester and the Rich Clubs
The four biggest and richest clubs, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal,had to eat humble pie as Leicester raced to the top of the league.
Readers might wonder about the difference between Leicester and the superrich clubs.
- Manchester City players costs on average 10 times as much per player as Leicester.
- Manchester United spent more money on players than Leicester has spent since the club formed in 1884.
- Arsenal’s most expensive signing cost more than 20 Leicester players.
- Chelsea spent around £200,000,000 in less than two seasons.
Leicester players includes:
Kasper Schmeichel, the goalkeeper who played for every minute of the season, was voted Denmark’s footballer of the year. A few seasons ago, he played in lower divisions to crowds of a few thousand.
Jaimie Vardy, who played for Fleetwood Town, a Division 2 team in front of crowds of 3000, was voted Sportswriters Player of the Year. He was the first player in the top division ever to score for 11 consecutive games.He now plays for England.
Ryad Mahrez from Algeria was voted Player of the Year by footballers in the football league. He cost £450,000 from a second division side, Le Havre, in France. He is a joy to watch.
Shinji Okazaki from Japan has become a national hero in his home country.
All the other players belong to a star team rather than a team of stars. They played as a team with every player contributing their part including the subs. In Buddhist terms, Leicester became the Soccer Sangha.
Leicester have captured the imaginations of football fans around the world with one of the most incredible sporting triumphs that embraced a whole season, not just a single game or single event. They have lost only three matches and have two more games to go.
Leicester will enter into sporting immortality.
A fairy-tale become a reality. Sports fans worldwide love the actualisation of the impossible dream.
Leicester will be playing teams next season like Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris St. Germain and Real Madrid for the European championships.
Watch out these four super-rich clubs, Leicester may run, run, run all over these teams while the Thai Monks meditate as a backup support.
Yes, of course, the future is uncertain. In football, very uncertain. Leicester’s beloved Italian manager, who some now refer to as King Claudio, knows it and mentioned it several times during the season. “We concentrate on each game. We concentrate on this season,” he said on numerous occasion
Last December, he said playfully and with much affection for his players “Leicester is like Forest Gump. We can run, run, run.”
Thank you to all the Leicester footballers, the manager, the staff, the monks and the owner.
Members of Parliament in Britain are calling for the Queen to make King Claudio a Knight of the Realm. “Sir Claudio…”
Leicester 2016. Awesome. Unforgettable.