Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Black Panther Mask Represents Me

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 14:  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal dons a Black Panther mask as he celebrates after scoring his team's third goal with Sead Kolasinac of Arsenal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Arsenal and Stade Rennais at Emirates Stadium on March 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)
Alex Morton/Getty Images

Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has explained the reasons behind donning a Black Panther mask after scoring against Rennes on Thursday.

The Gabon international was on target twice as the Gunners beat the Ligue 1 side 3-0 in the UEFA Europa League. Having lost the first leg 3-1, the result was enough for Arsenal to win 4-3 on aggregate and progress into the last 16 of the competition.

Having scored to put his side 3-0 up in the second half, the striker made a beeline for a bag behind the goal and pulled out a mask from the Marvel film.

Speaking to BT Sport (h/t Rich Jones of the Daily Mirror) after the game, Aubameyang said the headwear represented himself and his homeland.

"I needed a mask that would represent me," he said. "It is a Black Panther and in Africa in Gabon we call the national team the Panther of Gabon. It represents me."

BT Sport posted the full post-match interview of Aubameyang and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who scored Arsenal's other goal on the night:

Here is the moment Aubameyang put Arsenal 3-0 up and his subsequent celebration (UK only):

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

From Batman to Black Panther! Aubameyang grabs his second and celebrates. The Gunners have one foot in the Endgame. 🙅🏾‍♂️ Wakanda Forever 🙅🏾‍♂️ https://t.co/lUoc4Ojyu8

During the game, Aubameyang scored early for the Gunners, giving them a perfect platform to launch the comeback. His second goal was another poacher's finish, and while he should have completed his hat-trick late on when presented with more chances, the forward showed just how dangerous he can be in front of goal.

As we can see, it's not the first time the former Borussia Dortmund striker has celebrated a goal in this particular style:

B/R Football @brfootball

The masked man, @Aubameyang7 💯 https://t.co/BW6CnZ1yax

Mark Mann-Bryans of the Press Association noted the player has been planning this celebration for the two games prior to Thursday's encounter:

Mark Mann-Bryans @MarkyMBryans

Third time lucky for Aubameyang and his Black Panther mask. Missed the pen at Spurs, it was misplaced when he scored against United but it is out tonight. #AFC

Given Aubameyang was at a low point after his penalty was saved in stoppage time away at Tottenham Hotspur—Hugo Lloris made the stop with the score level at 1-1—it's to his credit he's been able to bounce back so well.

In Sunday's 2-0 win against Manchester United, he stepped up when Arsenal were awarded another penalty and coolly dispatched his effort, making it 17 goals for the Premier League season. On Thursday, he got his team off a fast start when it needed one.

While the striker has only pulled out masks for celebrations sporadically in his career, Arsenal supporters will be hopeful a lot more goals for their star forward will encourage even more creative routines in the future.