“I’M NOT RACIST”, INSISTS MAN AFTER BANANA THROWING CHARGE

Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - December 2, 2018 Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring their second goal Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A man charged with launching a banana skin at star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has insisted: “I’m not racist.”

Grandfather Averof Panteli, 57, threw the piece of fruit when the Gabon captain netted the first of his two goals in the Gunners’ 4-2 derby win.

He was arrested and charged after a nearby steward pointed him out to pitch-side cops.

As reported by The Sun, Panteli “swears on his kids’ lives” that he is not racist.

The van driver said: “I am not racist whatsoever. I am actually a Greek Cypriot. I am 100 per cent not a racist. I swear on my kids’ lives that I am not that kind of guy.

Mr Planteli has pleaded guilty to the offence of hurling the fruit and has revealed Tottenham have issued him with a life ban.

The Greek-Cypriot added: “The police were happy to say it was not racism.

“I phoned Tottenham to apologise and they said they would be getting in touch with me to ban me for life.

“I have been friends with black people all my life.

“I do not have a criminal record and I have never been in trouble with the law in my life.

“The only thing I have ever did was run on the pitch at Spurs when I was 14 and I got chucked out of the ground.”

Arsenal produced a fine second-half performance to come from a goal down to beat Mauricio Pochetino’s side 4-2 at the Emirates.

The two sides do it all again at the Emirates in just under a fortnight’s time.