Arsène Wenger’s hopes of ending his Arsenal career with his hands on the Europa League trophy in Lyon, France almost suffered a setback when it reportedly went missing in León, Mexico.
Authorities in the central state of Guanajuato state claimed on Twitter that the trophy had been stolen in the city of León, but was recovered soon afterwards. The silverware was taken from a vehicle after an event in the city.
#PGJEInforma Que a través de elementos de la @AIC_Guanajuato es recuperada la copa @EuropaLeague tras recibir la denuncia que había sido robada del vehículo que la trasladaba posterior a un evento en @municipio_leon. pic.twitter.com/TF8sKjVRAe
— PGJE (@PGJEGUANAJUATO) April 20, 2018
The state prosecutor’s office also tweeted a picture of the trophy in a cloth-lined case to confirm that it had been recovered by police but did not immediately provide more details. Uefa’s official website claims that the trophy “remains in Uefa’s keeping at all times,” with clubs receiving a replica – but initial reports, and the frantic search to recover it, suggest it was the original that went missing.
The incident drew parallels with the famous theft of the World Cup trophy in central London in March 1966. The Jules Rimet trophy was taken from a stamp exhibition in Westminster, and later found under a hedge in south London by Pickles, a collie who became part of football folklore.
Providing the trophy returns from Mexico in one piece, it will be handed to the Europa League winners after the final in Lyon on 16 May. If Arsenal make it past Atlético Madrid in the semi-finals, the final against either Marseille or Salzburg will be Wenger’s last game in charge after 22 years.