On a win and a prayer, monk joins tonight's chants for Leicester

On a win and a prayer, monk joins tonight's chants for Leicester

Chao Khun Thongchai is a key part of team spirit in quest for history.

Buddhist monk Phra Prommangkalachan poses for a portrait next to holy cloth with Leicester City's logo while he blesses the team at his temple in Bangkok, Thailand. (Reuters photo)
Buddhist monk Phra Prommangkalachan poses for a portrait next to holy cloth with Leicester City's logo while he blesses the team at his temple in Bangkok, Thailand. (Reuters photo)

As Thai football fans sit with their eyes glued to TV screens tonight, one man will be watching with his eyes closed.

Lucky charm: Chao Khun Thongchai will send blessings during the match.

Despite being a central figure in Leicester City's remarkable success this season, Chao Khun Thongchai has little interest in what happens on the pitch -- in fact he barely even understands the rules.

"I will meditate during the match. I will concentrate and say prayers for the team. I will send them positive energy," the senior monk said.

"I won't get excited about the result as I have to stay calm and neutral in order to send my blessings."

Chao Khun Thongchai shares a close spiritual connection with the team, who will claim their first Premier League title in more than a century if they can get past 20-time champions Manchester United in a match that kicks off at 8.05 tonight.

It was Chao Khun Thongchai who gave each player three "magic amulets" at the start of the season, when the struggling side was given odds of 5,000-1 to lift the cup.

He has also travelled to England frequently throughout the season to attend Leicester City's home matches at King Power Stadium. Prior to kick-off he will walk onto the pitch and bless the ground. Then he and eight other monks will chant and sprinkle holy water on each player before they take the field.

But even then he doesn't watch the on-field action. Chao Khun Thongchai said he has never sat in the audience at King Power Stadium, instead spending the games in a special "Buddha room" built by the team's owner, Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

"Whenever I am in England, I will be in the Buddha room during the game to meditate and send my positive energy to all players," the monk said.

"I don't need to watch the game to know that they win, since I can feel the strong vibrations from the cheering crowd. That's when I know they have won."

Chao Khun Thongchai has been a monk since the age of 15. Now 64, he said he has never been interested in sport and didn't even know the rules of football until 2010, when Mr Vichai purchased Leicester City and invited him to bless the stadium in England.

But the monk, who goes by the formal name Phraprommangkalachan at Wat Traimit in Bangkok, has found himself busier than ever off the back of the team's success, with daily visits from football fans, athletes and coaches.

When the Bangkok Post Sunday visited him on Friday afternoon, Chao Khun Thongchai appeared calm and was confident in Leicester City's chances of victory. He handed over a set of three amulets packed nicely in a box with an assertive grin on his face.

"I gave the same set of three amulets to each Leicester player. Here you are. They will bring you good luck," he said.

When Chao Khun Thongchai went to England to meet Leicester's players, he brought sets of those three amulets, each framed and attached to a gold necklace, to give each player.

When the three of them are together, it is believed they produce a high positive energy that attract success for those who own them.

One of Chao Khun Thongchai's assistants, Sirat, said the temple has also been inundated with Leicester City fans who want to have team flags and strips blessed by the monk.

Athletes and coaches also flock to the temple seeking blessings before an important game.

One thing in particular that these followers covet is a fabric talisman which is believed to be one of the holy items behind Leicester's success.

The gold fabric talisman features ancient Khmer alphabet and is named "Never lose". Since Chao Khun Thongchai gave the lucky charm to the Leicester players, Thais have begun referring to it as the Leicester talisman.

The Leicester talisman is not for sale -- Chao Khun Thongchai gives it away -- but the high demand has fully depleted his stock for the time being.

The three amulets are available for sale at Wat Traimit for 400 baht each. Mr Sirat said all of the money raised from their sale goes to the Romchatra Foundation and Traimit Wittayalai High School, both of which feature Chao Khun Thongchai as president. Still, Chao Khun Thongchai doesn't appear to believe it's his magic amulets that have put Leicester City on the brink of history. The monk gives full credit to Mr Vichai's management as well as the skill and hard work of the coach and players.

He said Leicester City had got to where they are now as a result of the good deeds Mr Vichai had done.

"My blessings, amulets, and other types of holy objects are just there to boost their confidence. I can't say that it's all because of me; I have to say that the confidence did make a big difference," he said. "All Leicester players are also in good health, unlike other teams that have struggled with injury."

He didn't expect the Leicester players to believe in the rituals he was performing, but he wanted everyone to be aware that he is sending out his blessings.


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