Arsene Wenger’s hopes of winning the Europa League with Arsenal before bowing out at the end of the season very nearly took a huge blow when the trophy was stolen in Mexico.
According to reports, the glittery prize was swiped from a vehicle during an event in the city of Leon, before it was safely returned, UEFA confirmed.
The state prosecutor’s office took to Twitter to upload an image of the trophy to prove it had indeed been recovered by police.
UEFA’s official website claims the trophy: “Remains in UEFA’s keeping at all times,” and that clubs receive replica ones. However, the efforts to recover the trophy suggest that the one that was swiped was the real McCoy.
The Europa League is the last chance for Arsenal to win some silverware, in what will be Wenger’s final season in charge of the north London club.
The Frenchman announced on Friday that he would be standing down at the end of this campaign, putting an end to his 22-year tenure.
Club captain Per Mertesacker said: “We have just been informed basically. It is quite emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now.
“Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I’m here is because of him.
“He has trusted me so much throughout my career, in bringing me here, giving me the opportunity to play and making me captain, even when I was injured.
“It is a sad day for me but we are also moving forward for the future.”