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Arsenal Laid Off Its ‘Gunnersaurus’ Mascot. A Player Offered to Pay His Salary.

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Mesut Ozil, one of soccer’s highest-paid stars, has offered to cover the salary of Arsenal’s Gunnersaurus mascot, a day after the man inside the English Premier League team’s dinosaur costume was let go to save money.

“I was so sad that Jerry Quy aka our famous & loyal mascot @Gunnersaurus and integral part of our club was being made redundant after 27 years,” Ozil, a midfielder, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “As such, I’m offering to reimburse @Arsenal with the full salary of our big green guy as long as I will be an Arsenal player.”

The response from Arsenal supporters was overwhelmingly positive, as measured by the more than 11,000 comments fans had posted to Ozil’s offer as of Tuesday afternoon. One man who said he had recently had the team’s beloved green mascot tattooed on his arm seemed particularly relieved.

The fate of Jerry Quy and his alter ego, Gunnersaurus, had been in limbo since Monday, when reports emerged that the club was letting Quy go as part of a cost-cutting effort that had already led to the elimination of 55 jobs. Quy had been mugging for Arsenal fans as Gunnersaurus since the character was introduced 27 years ago, in addition to serving the team in other functions, according to The Athletic, which reported on the team’s plans to dismiss Quy.

ImageMesut Ozil in January. Arsenal’s highest-paid player, he has offered to save Gunnersaurus by paying “the full salary of our big green guy as long as I will be an Arsenal player.”
Credit…Eddie Keogh/Reuters

The dismissal struck many fans as particularly egregious because, the same day, the club spent 45 million pounds, or more than $58 million, to sign Thomas Partey, a midfielder. The estimated net worth of the team’s owner, Stan Kroenke, hovers above $8.3 billion.

Gunnersaurus, whose full name is Gunnersaurus Rex, was introduced to fans on Aug. 20, 1993, according to ESPN. Soft and constantly smiling, he has proved irresistible to fans and players alike. In 2019, he won the World Cup of Football Mascots, a semiformal honor endowed on him by a popular Twitter account.

An Arsenal spokesman declined to say whether the team would accept Ozil’s offer, stating that the team does not comment on personnel matters.

“Gunnersaurus is not extinct and will return to action when fans are allowed back at matches,” the spokesman said on Tuesday.

The surge of love for Ozil over his offer to save Gunnersaurus comes amid the midfielder’s own difficulties with the team. Ozil, a gifted playmaker who won the World Cup with Germany 2014, is Arsenal’s best-paid player, pulling in about $453,000 a week. Nonetheless, since the Premier League resumed in June, after a two-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus, he has not played once.

His unwillingness to accept a pay cut, as many of his teammates and coaches have done to help make up for Arsenal’s pandemic losses, has also made him unpopular with some fans.

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