During 1993/4 reports in many sources suggested that Osama Bin Laden was an occasional visitor to Arsenal, and a supporter of the club – particularly being seen at the European Cup-Winners’ Cup campaign which of course resulted in victory.
Indeed there are reports of him buying a replica shirt for one of his sons in the club shop at Highbury.
Of course there is no verification other than the fact that the story does turn up in a number of books including several biographies of him including “Bin Laden: Behind The Mask Of Terror”, by Adam Robinson.
If he was indeed at Arsenal, there was nothing that Arsenal or the forces of law and order could have done about it at the time, since Bin Laden was at that moment a citizen of Saudi Arabia and in the UK legally. He had indeed previously studied English at a course in Oxford.
Then on 11 November 2001, the BBC reported that Arsenal had barred the terrorist from Highbury. In their commentary they suggest Bin Laden favoured the Clock End. So that’s all right. I was in the East at the time.
Then, as the story came out, so did the chant,
He’s hiding in Kabul,
He loves the Arsenal
The only problem apparently was his tendency to come out of his cave shouting “Come on you gunners”.
There was a certain amount of buoyancy in the air for the 1993/4 season in that Arsenal had just completed a unique FA Cup and Football League Cup double, just two years after winning the league in 1991. And the winning wasn’t over as Arsenal then went on to win the Cup Winners Cup in 1994 beating Parma.
In the Cup Double season Ian Wright was the top scorer with 30 goals. The following season he exceeded himself by being top scorer with 35 goals – his highest ever number of goals for Arsenal.
Arsenal then had three more years of waiting before winning their second League and Cup double in 1998 to give Mr Wenger his first trophies at Arsenal. He went on (as you may well recall) to win the League twice more, and the FA Cup six times more, to give him the all-time individual record of seven FA Cup wins.
As for Osama bin Laden, he was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on 2 May 2011, by a United States military special operations unit in an operation code-named Operation Neptune Spear, which was ordered by President Obama and carried out in a CIA operation.