240,000 join Foxes in title parade

Leicester City celebrating with the trophy on the bus during the parade.
Leicester City celebrating with the trophy on the bus during the parade.PHOTO: REUTERS
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri, Kasper Schmeichel, Riyad Mahrez, Andy King, Danny Simpson, Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy and Robert Huth celebrating with the Premier League trophy during the parade.
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri, Kasper Schmeichel, Riyad Mahrez, Andy King, Danny Simpson, Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy and Robert Huth celebrating with the Premier League trophy during the parade. PHOTO: REUTERS
Leicester City's English captain and defender Wes Morgan and Leicester City's Thai owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha holding up the Premier league trophy to fans as the Leicester City team celebrate in Victoria Park on May 16, 2016.
Leicester City's English captain and defender Wes Morgan and Leicester City's Thai owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha holding up the Premier league trophy to fans as the Leicester City team celebrate in Victoria Park on May 16, 2016. PHOTO: AFP
Leicester City football fans waving banners as they wait to see the Leicester City players pose with the Premier League trophy as the team arrive to celebrate in Victoria Park, on May 16, 2016.
Leicester City football fans waving banners as they wait to see the Leicester City players pose with the Premier League trophy as the team arrive to celebrate in Victoria Park, on May 16, 2016. PHOTO: AFP
Leicester City on the stage during the parade.
Leicester City on the stage during the parade. PHOTO: REUTERS
Leicester City's Italian manager Claudio Ranieri (centre) holds the Premier league trophy as the team take part in an open-top bus parade through Leicester to celebrate winning the Premier League title on May 16, 2016.
Leicester City's Italian manager Claudio Ranieri (centre) holds the Premier league trophy as the team take part in an open-top bus parade through Leicester to celebrate winning the Premier League title on May 16, 2016. PHOTO: AFP
Leicester City celebrating with the trophy on the bus during the parade.
Leicester City celebrating with the trophy on the bus during the parade. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Leicester City's Premier League fairy tale reached a joyous crescendo as around 240,000 fans turned the city blue while revelling in the club's title parade on Monday.

For two weeks since Claudio Ranieri's side were crowned one of the most unlikely champions in English football history, the city of Leicester has not stopped celebrating.

The party climaxed beneath sunny skies 24 hours after the Foxes finished their campaign with a 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Sunday.

After overcoming 5,000-1 odds to win the title, being hailed by a crowd - estimated by the local council at nearly a quarter of a million - was a fitting finale for Ranieri's squad as well as the club's Thai chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who soaked up the celebrations with his family.

"The city is here. It's something special," Ranieri said.

"This is because the team played with their soul and their hearts. The people understood this.

"It's unbelievable. I can only say thank you to the people."

Fans began congregating hours before the scheduled start of the parade as they packed streets along the route and gathered at Victoria Park.

Cheerleaders and a gospel choir then provided the entertainment on a stage set up to welcome the players at the end of the parade.

Thousands of the partying hordes came decked out in the team's blue home shirts, while hundreds of blue and white flags were waved by children with their faces painted in the club colours.

The first sightings of the blue open-top buses carrying the Leicester squad drew roars of delight from the ecstatic crowd.

Captain Wes Morgan and his team-mates, including Japan striker Shinji Okazaki and Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez, took turns holding the trophy on the top deck of one of the buses.

Once the buses reached their destination in Victoria Park, the raucous atmosphere was cranked up to the levels of a rock festival as players were interviewed.

Giant television screens also showed Leicester's goals from the season.

Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, son of Vichai, was close to tears as he made his way onto the stage to tell the crowd: "I think we need a bigger stadium.

"You have been amazing and I hope we (retain) the support next season."

Meanwhile, Ranieri has been rewarded by being crowned Manager of the Year by the League Managers Association.

The 64-year-old Italian becomes only the second non-British manager to win the prestigious accolade, after Arsenal's French boss Arsene Wenger, who won in 2002 and 2004.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2016, with the headline '240,000 join Foxes in title parade'. Print Edition | Subscribe