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Friday, 3 January, 2003, 07:36 GMT
Louis lives the dream
Oxford striker Jefferson Louis
Louis fired Oxford into the FA Cup third round

Jefferson Louis bared more than just his soul when he discovered Oxford would face Arsenal in the FA Cup third round.

A lifelong Gunners fan, Louis scored the winner against Swindon that put Oxford in the hat for the eagerly-anticipated draw that was being beamed to millions live on television.


The BBC had even put a camera in the dressing room at the Kassam Stadium to gauge the players' reaction should they be given a glamour tie.

And so when Arsenal were drawn, all hopes were pinned on number 39 being the next number to be called.

Bingo! Oxford had hit the jackpot and were Highbury-bound.

An ecstatic Louis jumped up and, forgetting about the camera, showed his backside to the nation as he leapt from one end of the dressing room to the other with only a towel covering his manhood.

Playing against the team I support is a dream come true

Jefferson Louis on facing Arsenal in the FA Cup

Another liberating moment in the life of the 23-year-old striker, who less than 12 months earlier had signed his release papers from Woodhill Prison where he spent six months after being convicted of dangerous driving while disqualified.

Written off at the age of 22, and described by the Oxford Mail as the "former Thame United footballer", Louis vowed to leave prison a stronger and better person.

He spent six months working out hard in the gym and did indeed walk out of Woodhill stronger and in better shape than when he arrived.

Louis returned to Thame United, quickly finding his feet for a player who had been out of competitive action for so long.

His mentor and manager Andy Sinnott was impressed and, believing Louis was destined for better things than the Ryman League, recommended the player to Oxford.

The rest is history - as will any giantkilling act be if the U's, spearheaded in attack by Jeffo, overcome the mighty Arsenal.

For now, though, Louis is happy to be living the dream.

"Playing against the team I support is a dream come true," he said.

Arsenal striker Thierry Henry
Henry is Louis' current Highbury hero

"The lads weren't laughing at me [in the dressing room] because they know how much this means to me.

"They understand how much I love Arsenal and how passionate an Arsenal fan I am.

"The fans and the players have been behind me and I am just trying to get on with things.

"From the age of eight, when I went to watch my first game, I have supported Arsenal through thick and thin."

And while Louis can expect the close attention of one of his heroes, Sol Campbell, in the Arsenal defence, the striker will be heading straight for the other end of the pitch on the final whistle regardless of the result.

"I look up to Thierry Henry at the moment and it would be a dream come true if he gave me his shirt at the end," he added.

Given Louis' passion for the Gunners, it is not inconceivable to think that he might leave Highbury with more than just one shirt.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Oxford's Jefferson Louis
"It is a dream come true"
Oxford boss Ian Atkins
"We are capable of causing a shock"

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