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Rest in peace, Maria Petri

It was with great sadness that the club has heard of the passing of legendary supporter Maria Petri.

It’s very difficult to put into words what Maria meant to everyone involved at Arsenal Football Club: players, staff and fellow supporters. Rarely can it be said that ‘games just won’t be the same’ without a supporter, but Maria’s presence, her legendary ‘Come on You Gunners!’ and many, many supportive songs created over the decades, will truly leave a void on matchdays at Emirates Stadium, Meadow Park and at away matches wherever we are playing.

Maria began following Arsenal in 1950, aged just 12 and remained a staunch supporter for the rest of her life. She was a regular presence at men's first-team, reserve and youth team matches and when Arsenal Ladies were formed in 1987, she took them to her heart and became synonymous with the team based at Boreham Wood.

There are so many Maria memories down the years: celebrating cup finals with the Women’s team, being visited by Ray Parlour with the FA Cup during the pandemic, singing her Beth Mead song with ‘Meado’ herself… but whoever she was with, whichever Arsenal team she was supporting, every picture of Maria was always lit up by her wonderful smile – and the smiles of everyone around her, energised by her infectious positivity and the twinkle in her eye.

The former schoolteacher was determined to be an upbeat, vocal presence at games amidst occasional negativity as a female fan in her earlier days as a supporter. But she was unflinchingly positive, no matter what the circumstances of the game and we hope that as a tribute to Maria, supporters will be spurred on to harness her optimism and spirit in memory of this very special fan.

Speaking from our training camp in America on Friday, Mikel Arteta said: "We are all really sorry to hear the news. She was an integral part of our support and our community. The way she transmitted Arsenal values and the feeling of this football club was something I have never seen before. She was everywhere, every single week and she will be missed. Big time."

Maria often said that “Arsenal was her family” and that family is devastated today. She also said: “I shall be oh so upset when I die, I won’t be able to watch Arsenal anymore.”

Well, everyone at Arsenal Football Club can’t quite believe that you won’t be able to give your very special support to our club anymore. You’ve been one in a million and we’ll never forget you Maria.

Rest In Peace.