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10:43 AM ETChris Jones, Special to ESPNLONDON — Gunnersaurus Rex had just finished greeting Burnley off their bus in the bowels of the Emirates, extending his great green claws toward manager Sean Dyche, Ashley Barnes and Ben Mee. Goalkeeper Nick Pope had taken a conspicuously wide turn to avoid him, and someone in the small crowd of observers registered displeasure — “That’s a bit out of order” — but Gunnersaurus seemed unfazed by Pope’s blind eye. His toothy grin stayed, as ever, glued to his friendly face.He waited for his Arsenal to arrive. When their own bus eased up, Gunnersaurus tapped the crest of his red jersey, made sure his feet were planted squarely on the cement floor, and opened his arms. Matteo Guendouzi, the curly haired midfielder, was among the first to reach him. Guendouzi accepted a hug with all of his heart.After the last of the players had passed him, Gunnersaurus made for the elevator that would take him to the concourse behind the family section of the stands. He had a minder but still banged his head on a beam along the way. It’s hard to be seven feet tall in England. He rode up and the lift doors opened. An elderly woman waiting on the other side had to put her hand to her chest to keep from falling over. She wasn’t expecting to see a dinosaur at a football game.- Euro 2020 mascot: Is it among the worst of past tournaments?
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– The most terrifying mascot in soccer It’s been more than 25 years since Gunnersaurus first appeared at one, and people still register the most complete surprise whenever they see him. Their faces light up. Their eyes go nearly as wide as their smiles. Gunnersaurus is like a machine custom-built to spread joy.An admiring crowd of supporters surrounded him. He was soon trapped in the concourse, unable to move, a modern-day Gulliver tied to the ground by the Lilliputians and their curious love. Children have a particular affinity for Gunnersaurus, and he does for them, but adults also express an unabashed affection for him. Gunnersaurus responds without a whisper of irony. He is particularly drawn to people in wheelchairs. He smothers them in the warmest embrace.There was a huge poster on the wall of the concourse where he stood. It depicted a young Arsene Wenger, then the overseer of the Invincibles, the unbeatable Arsenal of 2003-04. It included a quote from Brian Clough, marveling at the 49-game winning streak Arsenal then enjoyed. “It’s better than being in heaven,” Clough said.Gunnersaurus stood in front of that poster and dispensed hug after hug. One boy, maybe 12 years old, forgot that he
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