Arsenal: Running Fan Races into Hero Status with Travelling Gunners Squad

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterJuly 16, 2013

Picture courtesy of
Picture courtesy of

One Arsenal supporter was granted an audience with his heroes in Vietnam, but he had to race five kilometres to claim his reward.

The Gunners are currently preparing for their friendly against the Vietnam national team at the My Dinh National Stadium on Wednesday following the 7-0 win over Indonesia Dream Team in Jakarta on Sunday. (Update: Arsenal defeated Vietnam by a score of 7-1.)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and the players interrupted training to visit the world famous One Pillar Pagoda in the centre of Hanoi, but their coach picked up an unusual hitchhiker as they travelled to the spiritual tourist destination.

A Vietnamese supporter began to follow the players' coach as it travelled through the streets of Hanoi, and his efforts to maintain pace were greeted with applause and respect from the onlooking squad.

Despite bumping into the occasional tree and a lamppost, the supporter stayed in touch with the coach to the delight of the squad members watching his efforts.

Indeed, at one point, some players chanted, "Sign him up, sign him up," although Wenger may have other targets in mind for the new Premier League campaign.

The fan, who was wearing an Arsenal replica shirt, eventually took a lift on a motorcycle to ensure he did not lose sight of his heroes.

But he was eventually rewarded for his dedicated following when the Arsenal coach stopped to allow him on board to meet with players such as Mikel Arteta, Theo Walcott and Wojciech Szczesny.

The Gunners goalkeeper was so impressed with the fan's stamina and determination that he recorded his admiration with the help of the Arsenal Media Group in a blog on the official club website,

We were cheering him on and someone said maybe we should let him on the coach. So we invited him on and he got his shirt signed by everyone.

He should be a message that if you really want to pursue your dream, you can have them. And that's what happened today.

After playing the Vietnam national team on Wednesday, Arsenal will travel to Japan on Monday where they will face Nagoya Grampus, the club Wenger managed before succeeding Bruce Rioch at Highbury in 1996.

Arsenal will complete their Asia tour with a game against Urawa Red Diamonds on July 26 in Saitama.

Whether the team will find a fan as dedicated as their "Running Man" in Vietnam on the rest of the tour remains to be seen.