He was there, most definitely.
I saw him at the start before it got crowded and a little too frenetic. You could tell it was him, although he did tend to drift in and out of the action.
He was gliding around on the left hand side of the room, looking a little disinterested if I’m honest, almost as if he didn’t want to be the centre of attention. I mean, everyone knows what he’s capable of, but looking at him, I just wasn’t sure he was really going to get involved, which would have been a huge shame.
Especially as so many of his mates were there too – Danny, Alex, Theo…..and others, they had all shown up for him, and there he was, slightly apart from the rest of the group, with everyone looking slightly uncomfortable, almost like they were waiting for him to do something.
But why was he out there in the first place? Was it his choice? Or had someone told him he had to be out there, to allow others to make their mark? Personally I don’t think it was an order as such – you can’t force someone like him to do that, and I reckon he could still mingle and get involved if he wanted to and when he felt the time was right, I just don’t think it really allowed him to blossom.
And I have to say, when he did come inside and get involved, wow, it made all the difference! Talk about get the party started!
Smart footwork near the buffet and he’s sorted grub for Danny, just like that, served up on a plate. A quick shimmy near the bar and Jack and Alex are both celebrating with a round of drinks. Mesmerising footwork on the dance-floor and he’s with the best looking girl at the party. Incredible.
Looking on, Calum and I glanced at each other and laughed, shaking our heads. We both know – we’re so lucky to have him.
And with that he drifted away once again, merging with the shadows and getting lost in the crowd. The sort of thing people criticise him for, conveniently forgetting all the brilliance and success.
I didn’t really get another clear sighting until the party came to an end. I mean you knew he was there, but he didn’t really do anything or get involved. It was like he had done his work for the night, had made a difference, made his mark on proceedings. Job done.
Seeing him as I left, I smiled and shook his hand.
“Happy birthday Mesut, thanks for the invite.”
Gareth Stringer’s first Arsenal game was in 1980 and, with a father who followed the team avidly, he’s been a staunch supporter ever since. He worked in football for many years, looking after some of the sport’s biggest sponsors and biggest players.
Despite being a Gooner in exile these days, Gareth follows every single Arsenal game and has written a fair amount about them too, something he combines with his day job as an aviation journalist and web designer.