Image:Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri, Danny Simpson, Kasper Schmeichel, Riyad Mahrez, Andy King, Christian Fuchs, Danny Drinkwater, Leonardo Ulloa, Robert Huth and Jamie Vardy with the trophy on the bus during the parade. Reuters / Phil Noble
LEICESTER, England (Reuters) – Leicester City’s players celebrated their Premier League title success with a victory parade on an open-top bus through the streets of the Midlands county town in front of about 250,000 ecstatic fans on Monday.
Supporters had begun lining the streets from midday to see their heroes and Italian manager Claudio Ranieri display the gleaming trophy that had seemed an unlikely prize at the start of the season when they were 5,000-1 outsiders.
The players waved and smiled as they passed the thousands thronging the streets on their way from Jubilee Square in the city centre to a special stage erected in Victoria Park where they lapped up the adulation of the adoring Foxes faithful.
The players were individually introduced to the crowd who cheered every name and the players re-enacted being presented with the trophy — which they had received officially after their final home game against Everton at the King Power Stadium.
“I enjoyed today in front of all our fans. I want to say thank you to everybody because in all the season they pushed behind us and they believed in us,” said Ranieri, who like Leicester, picked up his first top-flight league title.
Captain Wes Morgan said: “What we’ve achieved this season has been fantastic and the boys and the staff… and the fans, everyone has contributed to it and it has been a fantastic season and you can’t take that away from us.”
Leicester finished 10 points ahead of Arsenal, with Tottenham Hotspur, the only team left chasing the Foxes in the final weeks of the season, finishing a further point back.
Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez added: “I’m very happy to be here with these fans and it’s amazing, unbelievable. What we’ve done this season… we should be proud of ourselves. It’s magnificent.”
Highlights of the club’s amazing season, including goals from striker Jamie Vardy, the Football Writers’ Player of the Year, and PFA Player of the Year Mahrez, plus memorable quotes from Ranieri, were replayed on big screens to cheers.
Rock band Kasabian, who formed in Leicester in 1997 and are fans of the club, performed after the players left the stage.
(Writing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)
Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.