At 77, granny still rooting for Arsenal

– Dazzles football fans with punditry skills

Football is a beautiful game and its global acceptance made it one of the biggest tools for unifying the world. It’s amazing how much emotion people invest in discussing different events that happen within the 90 minutes of a game.

You will be shocked that a 14-year-old boy engages a 50-year-old in a debate on who supports the better team without the sentiment of who is older.

But one situation people don’t get to see every time is the dedication and unwavering passion Alhaja Sidikatu Hassan popularly known as Mama Arsenal blessed us with earlier this week when a video of her analysing the Gunners’ performance went viral.

Mama Arsenal’s manner of dissecting major football issues would impress experts in the field like Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville and Guillem Balagué. A pundit is an expert in a particular subject or field who is frequently called upon to give their opinions to the public.

Explaining how she got attracted to football and to Arsenal Football Club in particular, she said: “Right from time, I just loved football. God sent me to Arsenal from the beginning, so I have always liked them.

“I can never leave from Arsenal to support another team. I have to persevere with them. They are my mates, I have to follow them and support them.”

The mother of four, who became a viral sensation early this week after her video surfaced on the internet, analysed the Manchester City versus Chelsea match at Stamford Bridge with great aplomb in fluent Yoruba.

“My family members used to discourage me from watching football, but I did not only watch, I made sure I also followed up on what followed.”

Asked how she would feel if her beloved Arsenal got beaten in their next match, she said it would mean nothing, saying Arsenal recently defeated Southampton 2-0, so it would be normal for her side to accept a loss.

Instagram comedian, Woli Arole, however hosted the lively Mama Arsenal fully kitted in her Gunners gear on his talk show programme tagged ‘Chatroom with Woli Arole’ where she revealed that she had been supporting the North London club for 12 years from the days of former manager, Arsene Wenger. She said in their next match, her team would win.

Asked by the comedian to list five Arsenal players currently in the team, she, speaking in her Yoruba dialect, mentioned Alexandre Lacazette, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil.

Mama Arsenal’s session became even more entertaining when she took out time to list the areas she visits to watch a football match; adding that whenever she steps out and a match is on, she makes sure she gets a comfortable place to watch the match before continuing her journey.

Asked if she would rather miss a relative’s function on a Saturday to watch a match involving Arsenal, she said she might not, but she would definitely look for a place where the match is being broadcast in order to watch it

“Once I have eaten, I will look for a place to watch the match, because I don’t joke with football,” she said.

But did she ever play football?

“No,” she said. “I did not play football when I was young. But I have always been interested in it.”

Explaining how she manages to keep fit even in her old age, Mama, who hails from Lagos State, said she jogs for more than one hour three days in a week, after which she relaxes with a cup of tea.

The mother of four with plenty of grandkids was up to date with the team’s record. She spoke of how Mikel Arteta, the current Arsenal coach, was mentored by Pep Gurdiola. She predicted that the Gunners will beat his team in the FA Cup semi-final.

On the instagram live show, the diehard Gunners’ fan was recognised by authentic Nigeria supporters. They honoured her with a free membership to join their elder statesmen’s committee.

Alhaja Hassan is a thoroughbred football pundit as she does not only know the players in Arsenal’s line-up, she also updated Woli on Manchester United’s Nigerian signee, Odion Ighalo, who joined the club recently.

While the live interview session was in progress, fans requested for her account number and donated funds to support her passion for the game.

On June 1, ‘Mama Arsenal’ was officially inducted as a bona fide member of Authentic Nigeria Football Supporters Club. According to the club, her passion for football analysis earned her the honour.

Woli Arole announced on Instagram: “Breaking news!!!! Alhaja Hassan, now called “Mama Arsenal”, has been given FREE membership to join the “Authentic Nigerian Football Supporters” authenticnfsc. With this, Mama can travel to watch Nigerian matches within and outside Nigeria, all expenses paid.

“A big shout out to @authenticnfsc for this. We are grateful that #ChatRoomwithwoliarole was the platform that gave birth to this. Our goal is to HONOUR people and put SMILES on people’s faces.”

ANFSC National President, Prince Abayomi Ogunjimi, was full of praise for the aged sporting mama who is a big fan of the English Premier League side.

She was given the club’s full kit.

“We are proud to have Mama Arsenal in our midst,” said Prince Abayomi Ogunjimi after she was fully inducted.

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