Vietnam’s ‘Running Man’ invited to the Emirates by Arsenal

AFP, HANOI

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 - Page 18

A Vietnamese soccer fan who chased Arsenal’s team bus for kilometers through the streets of Hanoi said yesterday he has been invited to watch his heroes play in London.

Footage on the Arsenal Web site shows players cheering and chanting “Sign him up, sign him up” as the young man, wearing an Arsenal shirt and white trainers, ran alongside the bus through the Vietnamese capital.

Vu Xuan Tien, who has been dubbed the “Running Man,” was eventually invited aboard to pose for photographs with the Arsenal squad and have his shirt signed by manager Arsene Wenger.

“It was a dream come true for me to be invited to board the Arsenal bus and to meet coach and all the players, including my idol Mikel Arteta,” he said, adding that he felt “so lucky” to have met the team.

“I have also been invited to see Wenger’s Arsenal team play at their home in London at Emirates Stadium, probably in August or September. It is really unbelievable,” he said.

“It will be the greatest joy of my life,” added the 20-year-old, who became an overnight media sensation after the video was posted on the Arsenal Web site on Tuesday.

There was no immediate comment from Arsenal on the apparent invitation.

Photographs of Tien with Wenger and other Arsenal players have been widely published in Vietnam’s state media.

He became the team’s unofficial mascot on the Hanoi leg of their pre-season Asia tour and was invited to lead the Arsenal players onto the pitch at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi before their match on Wednesday against the Vietnam national team, which they won 7-1.

After running for several kilometers after the bus, Tien then appeared alongside it on the back of a motorbike — to loud laughter from the players.

“It should be a message for all of you guys that if you really want to pursue your dreams, it can happen,” ’keeper Wojciech Szczesny said in the Arsenal video.