Published July 18, 2013
HANOI (AFP) – A Vietnamese football fan who chased Arsenal's team bus for miles through the streets of Hanoi said he has been invited to watch his heroes play in London.
Footage on the Arsenal website 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 (Wenger) and all the players, including my idol Mikel Arteta," he told AFP, 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 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 and in the foreign press.
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 Wednesday match against the Vietnamese national team, which they won 7-1.
After running for several miles (kilometres) 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," said goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny in the Arsenal video.
The footage illustrates the fervour for Premier League clubs by fans in Asia, where European football has a massive following.
Fans queued overnight to get their hands on tickets for Wednesday's match, and the stadium was packed with enthusiastic supporters, many clad in Arsenal shirts but also waving the Vietnamese flag.
Across the region, thousands of fans have turned out to give rock-star welcomes to Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea over the past week as they embark on pre-season tours in Asia.