Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said that donning the Black Panther mask after scoring a goal in the Round of 16 Europa League clash against Rennes was a tribute to his home country Gabon. The forward struck twice in the second leg and then added an assist for Ainsley Maitland-Niles as the Gunners picked up a 3-0 win to progress to the quarterfinals 4-3 on aggregate.
The Gabon international opened the scoring for the Premier League side in the fifth minute and then added another at Emirates Stadium with the third goal for Arsenal in the second half. To celebrate the moment, Aubameyang brought a mask made famous by Marvel superhero Black Panther.
🙅🏾♂️ “My son, it is your time.” 🙅🏾♂️
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) 15 March 2019
Speaking to BT Sport after the match, the striker explained the reason for doing so. “I needed the mask to represent me,” he said.
“Black Panther… in Africa and Gabon we are called the Black Panthers so it represents me – that’s it,” he added.
“I needed a mask which represents me. It’s the Black Panther and in Africa, in Gabon, we call the national team the Black Panthers of Gabon… It represents me.”
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) 14 March 2019
Talking further about the match, Aubameyang said that Rennes, who were leading 3-1 after the first leg, were nervous during the match. “I think they [Rennes] were a bit nervous and angry as well. But that’s football and sometimes this happens. I missed two chances to close the game but, okay, most important we won today and we are all happy and proud,” he added.
It is not the first time Aubameyang has sported a superhero mask. He had earlier worn a Spiderman mask while playing for Saint-Etienne in 2012. In 2014, he donned a Batman mask along with teammate Marco Reus, while playing for Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich in a Super Cup match.