Former Bafana goalkeeper Andre Arendse, also played for Fulham in the days of the legendary Kevin Keegan when their whirlwind journey was just beginning. Arendse took us down memory lane to his time in West London with The Cottagers, and back to the time when he met pop superstar Michael Jackson whilst getting ready for a game at Craven Cottage.
“Being the owner of a world-renowned store like Harrods in London, gives someone like billionaire Mohamad Al Fayed, the Fulham owner, such appeal, and real pull and power. If you are talking about international superstars, he knew the biggest in the world” Andre Arendse told ThisIsFootball.Africa whilst talking about former Harrods and Fulham FC owner.
“Every year Mohamed Al Fayed had this massive Harrod sale at his store. He would then invite these mega pop stars to come and sing at the opening of the sale at the store. It would generate so many visits from not only local people but also people from abroad. They would come see the store, spend their money in the store and come see who the superstars were in the store at the time. All the customers wanted to be there to see who the pop stars were that Al Fayed had the ability to bring in. “
Mohamed Al Fayed is an Egyptian businessman who sold Fulham FC to Shahid Khan in 2013. He also sold the Harrods department store to a Qatari royal family holding group in 2010 for $2.4 Billion.
“I remember we were sitting in the changing room preparing for a game one day at Craven Cottage, and Mohamed Al Fayed walked into the change room, and he said to everybody stop changing, stop what you’re doing, sit down and put your hands together for Michael Jackson,” continued Arendse.
” We all burst out laughing thinking what is this joke. Then we could not believe our eyes when Michael Jackson walked in. I remember it like it was yesterday. Upon seeing him my first reaction was to ask him to sing Thriller or Billie Jean or to dance to the music that was playing in the dressing room at the time. This was just so I could believe and see for my own eyes that it was really the great Michael Jackson!
“Low and behold it was him. We even got to spend time with him. We brought him onto the field, he kicked the ball around in the warm-up and it was just a moment in my life where you think it’s not real. It was unbelievable but at the same time it was all true. I got to shake his hand and it was just an amazing moment in time.”
A statue of the pop sensation was built outside of Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground but was removed shortly after Al Fayed sold his shares to Khan. The statue was apparently returned to the former Egyptian owner as it did not form part of the football history of the south-west London club.