Coach Ek the unlikely stateless hero of Thai cave drama

Schooled as a monk and now hailed a hero, football coach Ekkapol Chantawong is one of several stateless members of the "Wild Boars", a team whose survival after days trapped in a flooded Thai cave fixated a country that does not recognise them as citizens. Coach Ek, the 25-year-old who was among the last to emerge from the cave on Tuesday, has been lauded for keeping the the young footballers -- aged 11-16 -- calm as starvation loomed in the dark. As he awaited his turn to undertake the dangerous exit from the Tham Luang complex, Thais on the outside celebrated him as a modest, devout and duty-bound member of the Mae Sai community.

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