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Leicester get heroes' welcome in Bangkok

Do Not UseDo Not Use 18/05/2016
Player Shinji Okazaki, with other players and supporters standing behind him, waves to the press as Leicester City FC players arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport: With one of Leicester's star players, Shinji Okazaki, being Japanese, the club's fame in Asia is not limited to Thailand © AFP With one of Leicester's star players, Shinji Okazaki, being Japanese, the club's fame in Asia is not limited to Thailand

Members of Premier League-winning team Leicester City have arrived in Bangkok for a celebratory tour.

Leicester City fans cheer and wave flags as players arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok (18 May 2016): The club had few fans in Thailand until their fairytale season © AFP The club had few fans in Thailand until their fairytale season

Leicester City, who rose from likely relegation to league champions in just one season, are owned by Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who arranged their visit.

Team manager Claudio Ranieri shakes hands with supporters as he arrives with his team at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok (18 May 2016): Team manager Claudio Ranieri and players shook hands with ecstatic supporters at the airport © Reuters Team manager Claudio Ranieri and players shook hands with ecstatic supporters at the airport

Players and staff were welcomed to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport by cheering supporters.

Leicester City's Wes Morgan gestures as he arrives at the airport in Bangkok (May 18 2016).: Among the team members travelling to Thailand was Wes Morgan, who plays as defender and is captain of The Foxes. © Reuters Among the team members travelling to Thailand was Wes Morgan, who plays as defender and is captain of The Foxes.

On Monday, more than 240,00 people watched them parade in their home town.

Leicester City's Shinji Okazaki arrives at Suvarnabhumi International airport on May 18, 2016.: Leicester City's 30-year-old Shinji Okazaki also plays for the Japan national football team as a forward. © Reuters Leicester City's 30-year-old Shinji Okazaki also plays for the Japan national football team as a forward.

Team coach Claudio Ranieri and captain Wes Morgan were among the players who made the trip to Thailand.

From left: player Kasper Schmeichel, manager Claudio Ranieri, and player Shinji Okazaki at Bangkok's airport (May 18 2016).: The BBC's Jonathan Head says Leicester's unexpected success has given Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's company, King Power, a golden opportunity to promote itself. © Reuters The BBC's Jonathan Head says Leicester's unexpected success has given Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's company, King Power, a golden opportunity to promote itself.

However midfielder Riyad Mahrez was not among the line up, nor were Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy who had been called up for international duties.

Leicester City"s player Wes Morgan arrives with his team at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok (May 18 2016).: Leicester City will display the premier league trophy at the headquarters of King Power, where the company had put up TV screens for fans to watch the team's final games. © Reuters Leicester City will display the premier league trophy at the headquarters of King Power, where the company had put up TV screens for fans to watch the team's final games.

Support for the Foxes, as they are known, has gained momentum across Thailand, as football supporters have slowly started to shift away from popular clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool.

The club remained largely unknown in Thailand until it was bought over by Mr Srivaddhanaprabha six years ago.

The brand of his duty-free company King Power features prominently on the players' blue jerseys, with the club's home stadium also named after the company.

"Now I'm half Liverpool, half Leicester", said 20-year-old Max Akkhapracha, speaking to AFP. "It was a very exciting season, winning the Premier League was just amazing."

Leicester won the league 10 points above nearest rivals Arsenal, and will contest next season's Champions League competition against the best clubs in Europe.

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