By Nick Ames in Lagos
It was short, sharp and occasionally tiring - but they loved every minute of it.
The trio were kept busy during their day in Lagos, taking part in four separate events for fans and Club partners. Things couldn’t have kicked off any more energetically, local dance star Kaffi leading them through the ‘Malta Guinness Low Sugar Workout’, which will be part of an online advertisement for the soft drink of that name.
In front of an appreciative crowd, Per took particular applause for his dancing moves - providing a study in co-ordination and commitment as the trio went through several takes. Little did they know it, but they’d be called upon to repeat the routine later that evening in front of a legion of delighted supporters.
As you take the main road into Lagos from the airport, Airtel banners sporting the faces of several Arsenal players appear at regular interviews - immersing you in things red and white before your feet have even touched the ground.
The mobile communications provider runs a ‘Rising Stars’ programme, and has given five budding young footballers the opportunity to be trained the Arsenal way. Per, Lukas and Bac met them yesterday afternoon, Per taking part in an impromptu penalty shoot-out, before undertaking a signing session for invited fans.
As the evening started to draw in, some 200 supporters took part in a Q&A with the Arsenal players. It’s fair to say that Lukas is already becoming a fans’ favourite out here, having charmed many with his ready smile and wit, and he was the focus of many questions - giving him the opportunity to practice his rapidly-improving English.
Forty million Nigerians profess to support the Gunners, said the event’s MC - quite simply an astonishing figure.
Dinner with supporters and guests of our two Club partners in Nigeria rounded things off. It was a day in which the pace barely let up, but the smiles on the Arsenal players’ faces were genuine. Each had received a taste of the love inspired by Arsenal in these parts - and each was well aware that they had only witnessed the tip of the iceberg.
The trip was a pleasure to cover from a media perspective, too. Along with our producer, Harry, I met scores of supporters keen to tell their stories - and you’ll see some of them on Arsenal Player before long. It may have been a whistle-stop trip, but Arsenal and Nigeria have already forged quite a relationship.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 30 Jul 2012