Not many clubs in the third-tier of English football get high-profile visitors from the world of pop music, but that’s exactly what happened 21 years ago when Michael Jackson – the King of Pop himself – rocked up at Fulham.
Jackson was coaxed to Craven Cottage by chairman Mohamed Al Fayed after spending the morning showing the singer around department store Harrods, which Al Fayed also owned at the time.
The pop star didn’t exactly witness a thriller, with Fulham running out 2-0 winners over Wigan, but his presence was enough to startle the Cottagers’ semi-naked players after the match.
“Most of us were half-naked, having showers, in good spirits because we’d won,” goalkeeper Maik Taylor recalled in an interview with the Guardian last year.
“Al Fayed was a great character and great among the lads in the dressing room. He came in leading Michael Jackson, and his quote, which made us all howl hysterically, as he came in was: ‘Hide your willies boys.’
“He came in and met the guys briefly, then we all agreed to get our clothes on and go back out on to the pitch to have our photos with him.”
“We all got a signed photo of him with the team – I don’t have it on the wall or anything, but I’ve still got it.
“At that point he’s one of most famous guys on the planet. I’m still a fan now of his music – I’ve been to watch the musical Thriller in London; incredible talent.”
Jackson reportedly enjoyed his experience and commented after the match: “I’m a soccer fan now, definitely.”
The pop star was later immortalised at Craven Cottage when a statue bearing his likeness was unveiled outside the ground in 2011.
Al-Fayed sold Fulham two years later, with new owner Shahid Khan tearing down the statue and donating it to the National Football Museum in Manchester.