Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez dedicated his match-winning goal against Tottenham to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha following the Leicester owner’s death.
The Algerian’s sixth-minute strike sent City back to the top of the Premier League at Wembley and he celebrated by pointing to the sky in dedication to his former chairman, who was killed in a helicopter crash on Saturday night.
Mahrez, who joined City in the summer, was a key figure in Leicester’s stunning Premier League triumph in 2015-16 and was affected by the events at the King Power Stadium over the weekend.
“It’s been very difficult,” he told Sky Sports. “The boss was very special to me, I spent four-and-a-half years there.
“He was such a good person and I’m very, very sad. That’s why I put my hands in the sky for him.
“He did a lot for me and for Leicester. He was like a dad to us. He had a very big heart. I was heartbroken to hear this news.
“It’s a difficult situation and I’m with Leicester and the families of the victims.
“I always wanted to play, he would have wanted me to play. He was passionate about football.”
City boss Pep Guardiola said there was never any option Mahrez would not play at Wembley.
The Spaniard said: “All of us spoke with him and asked him how he feels. It was a big loss for all of the families in Leicester and Riyad was part of that for many, many years.
“Of course it was tough but I didn’t have to speak to him in terms of how he felt about playing because I know how competitive he is and how he likes to play in big events and big stages and sometimes playing helps, not to forget but to live it in a better way.”
Mahrez’s goal proved the difference on a Wembley pitch that hosted an NFL game on Sunday.
It was far from a vintage performance from the champions but they could have scored further goals, with Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Sergio Aguero all missing chances.
“It was a good victory against a tough opponent, the most physical opponent I have faced in my career,” Guardiola said. “It was a good game in difficult conditions with the pitch.”
Tottenham matched their opponents for periods of the game but never looked threatening until the final 10 minutes when Erik Lamela missed a golden chance, blazing over from 10 yards after being teed up by Dele Alli.
It was Spurs’ third loss of the season and boss Mauricio Pochettino insists his side are still a way off City.
He said: “You cannot compare us with Manchester City, we are a different level. We have still not achieved the level of Manchester City, it is a team that is focusing on trying to win titles. We are focusing on different things, not only to win games.
“The gap is not big, but we need to respect the gap and we still have not achieved the level of Manchester City.”
On the state of the pitch that Spurs will play on for at least the next two months, the Argentinian added: “The circumstance of the pitch for both sides was the same.
“It was a very competitive game, we conceded so early, you cannot concede so early in these type of games, but we are so proud.
“It was an even game and we created a lot of chances. It was very competitive and an even game. I am disappointed because of the result but the performance was good.”