For the past 40 years, Jill Smith has been dedicated to Arsenal Football Club. Travelling to youth, Arsenal Ladies and first-team matches, her passion for the club and game knows no boundaries.
A familiar face to those at Arsenal matches, Jill has been an ever present, always sporting an outfit in a colour that matched the team’s playing kit, even down to the jewellery. Until very recently, the Arsenal fanatic was the club’s supporter liaison officer - but after many years of wonderful service, she is set to retire from her day-to-day role with the Gunners this summer.
To say thank you, club partner Emirates gave her a surprise that she will never forget. During half time at the last home fixture of the season against West Bromwich Albion, Jill was taken aback to see Robert Pires standing pitchside to introduce a video with a host of former players and famous faces united in paying tribute to her selfless years of support.
"You could be anywhere in Europe or the world playing a game or even a friendly and chances are you’d see Jill, her smiling face, always smiling. She’s synonymous with Arsenal really"
Ex-Arsenal forward Alan Smith said: “You could be anywhere in Europe or the world playing a game or even a friendly and chances are you’d see Jill, her smiling face, always smiling. She’s synonymous with Arsenal really.”
Tony Adams, former Arsenal captain, added: “It’s very rare that you get those one club people, Jill’s our Arsenal one. I thank her a huge amount, I wish every fan was like Jill.”
Looking back on the day, Jill said: “I can honestly say the day was the best-kept secret ever, I had no idea of what was happening and was absolutely stunned when Robert Pires said my name. I could not believe what was happening on the screen, it was amazing, as was the reaction of the crowd.
"I was deeply touched by the comments that were being made about me by so many legends of the club. I have never been so proud to be part of the Arsenal family in all the years I have supported the club, it was truly the perfect day. I’d like to say a very genuine and heartfelt thank you to the club and Emirates for making it happen.”
The activity was part of Emirates’ All Time Greats campaign, connecting fans with their passions. As a long supporter of football through partnerships with some of the biggest clubs in Europe and with FIFA, Emirates created this campaign to celebrate the sport and those who play a part in making it the beautiful game.
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