IPOH: The rise of Barclays Premier League club Leicester City has befuddled critics and fans as the side fancied for relegation earlier in the season are now cruising towards the title.
Led by charismatic Italian manager Claudio Ranieri, the team is now five points ahead of Tottenham Hostpur in second spot and many are predicting for them to continue their fine run in the league.
But while hardwork and determination seem to have propelled the club, there is one other element that, according to some people, has taken the Foxes to another level.
Pictures of Thai monks at Leicester matches and in the team’s dressing room have gone viral and some commentators have attributed the team’s luck to the “good karma” from the pre-match rituals performed.
Malaysian national football coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee (pic) is of the opinion that all religions teach good things and that he has seen many religious and spiritual rituals performed before matches. However, he stresses that one cannot depend on rituals alone.
“You cannot rely only on religion to win trophies. You need to work very, very hard. You have to have the belief and hardwork to succeed … only then will God help you.
“At the end of the day, if you do not work hard and you expect things to drop in your lap, you won’t get it,” he told The Star on Tuesday.
In a May 2015 Telegraph article, league top scorer and star striker Jamie Vardy revealed that one of the secrets behind the Foxes top performance was that Thai monks had blessed the team by lashing the players with sticks.
“They dip the sticks in the holy water and then lash us on our legs and feet. It’s not too hard, it’s just that you’re literally having a shower, there’s that much water going everywhere. It’s all over your gear you've just hung up.
“That’s the Thai culture and we are happy for them to do it,” Vardy is reported to have told the British paper, commending the club’s Thai owners for the additional inspiration.
An article a year earlier in Britain’s Mail Online had also claimed that the team was blessed by monks before their 5-3 win against Manchester United at the King Power Stadium.
Strikers David Nugent and Vardy, who scored in the match, are said to have worn necklaces featuring Buddha figures after the win.
Former manager Nigel Pearson is reported to have even told the monks that they could come every week. However, luck may not have been on his side as he was sacked at the end of that season.