September Song JP Cooper
16 May 2016, 20:02
More than 100,000 fans have saluted Leicester's title-winning footballers amid ``unbelievable'' scenes during an open-top bus tour celebrating their Premier League triumph.
Manager Claudio Ranieri, struggling to be heard amid the cheering crowds, called the scenes ``special'' and thanked supporters, saying ``all the city is here''.
Star striker Jamie Vardy also heralded the team's ``unbelievable achievement'', as fans chanted ``championes'' in streets decked out in the Foxes' colours of blue and white.
Leicester captain Wes Morgan and his team-mates set off from a packed Jubilee Square with the trophy - just two years after a similar parade to celebrate the side's promotion to the top flight, and only a year after they were nearly relegated.
Ranked as 5,000-1 outsiders by some bookmakers at the start of the season, Leicester clinched the title two weeks ago and finished the 2015/16 campaign 10 points ahead of second-placed Arsenal.
A party atmosphere has been building all day as supporters gathered to laud the remarkable achievements of football's ``miracle team''.
Scarf-waving revellers crowded into every thoroughfare along the parade route.
There was also a big Italian contingent in the city, honouring countryman Ranieri who has spearheaded this year's successful campaign.
A huge red, white and green tricolour bearing the Italian national football team slogan ``Forza Azzurri'' took pride of place at the busy East Gates junction, with bare-chested supporters chanting their heroes' names.
Ranieri said: ``It's unbelievable. All the city is here. It's something special.
``I think this is because the team won but also played with heart and soul and the people understood this.
``I can only say thank you to all the people.''
England striker Vardy said of Leicester's achivement: ``It's still not sunk in but I'm sure it will over time. It's been an unbelievable achievement.
``When we got promotion from the Championship, obviously it wasn't as big as this - just look at the scenes, it's mad.''
His fiancee Becky Nicholson tweeted a picture of the thousands of supporters lining the route, describing the scenes as ``insane''.
The club's Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who took over in 2010 could also be seen at the back of the bus smiling at the hordes of fans.
As the bus rolled on, souvenir-hunters ripped down banners emblazoned with ``Champions'' or scooped up fistfuls of the blue and silver confetti littering the street in the parade's wake, shoving it into their pockets.
Under a cloudless sky, placards with images of King Richard III's head edited to fit a Leicester City strip bobbed above the crowd.
The re-burial of the king in 2015 was the last time the city witnessed anything approaching these scenes, with some speculation the former monarch may have been a good luck charm for the football team.
Lifelong supporters Yvonne and Stuart Bowley, 59 and 56, described the scenes as ``magic''.
Also among the partying crowds, was a group of Italian students from the home of Ferrari, Maranello.
Simone Biagini, 25, and friends Christian Brunese, Davide Cambriglia, and Alberto Guliani flew out especially for the parade, determined to celebrate the ``Campiones''.
Mr Biagini said: ``We are here for the party, for the miracle team and we are going to get drunk before we leave tomorrow.''
Sicilian Francesco Crimi, 31, who now lives in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, said: ``I love Claudio Ranieri and I love this country.''
The crowds also included a party of mature students from Thailand, all studying English on a month-long language course at Leicester's De Montfort University.
Chaiya Noradechanunt, from Northern Thailand, had donned a jester-style Leicester City hat to watch the parade - a fortnight after watching the title-clinching Chelsea-Tottenham match on television in his homeland.
The 48-year-old, who works as a nurse, said: ``I am here for four weeks and I love football - I always watch the matches in Thailand.
``Leicester are very popular, have a big fan club, in Thailand, because King Power is the sponsor.
``This (the parade) is fantastic for Leicester and they have played fantastic - a big improvement as they nearly fell last year.''
The club has strong links to the Far Eastern nation after a 2010 take-over by Mr Srivaddhanaprabha.
Long-time fan Eileen James from Birstall, Leicester, said she was delighted by the international flavour of the celebrations, which have drawn visitors from across the globe.
``I think it's absolutely amazing, '' she said
``Everybody is here, all these different nationalities.
``They've come from all over the world just to be here.''
Referring to comments from late broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan, who in the 1980s quipped that the city was only mentioned in traffic reports but ``otherwise, unknown to mankind'', Mrs James said the city was now ``on the map''.
The parade - official recognition of Leicester's status as champions of England for the first time in the club's 132-year history - concluded in the city's Victoria Park in front of tens of thousands of supporters.
The squad, manager, owner and backroom staff assembled on stage as the crowd were treated to replays of all of Vardy's 24 goals during the campaign on big screens.
Ranieri, asked about the prospect of Leicester's first ever Champions League campaign next season, told the crowd: ``Yes. Keep dreaming, keep dreaming.
``Don't wake up.''
He added: ``Yes (I enjoyed the season) but now I enjoy today, for all our fans.
``I want to say thank you for everybody, because all season they push behind us.
``Every time we were down, they push, they push, they push.''