WEDDING joker Ben Kean has told how a comedian friend gave him the confidence to go ahead with a speech that earned him a playful slap from his bride – and has now made him famous across the world.
The 26-year-old from Bognor has become a hero of social media at home and abroad after an emotional section of his groom’s speech that everyone thought was going to be dedicated to his new bride Kirsty but turned out to be about Arsenal star Mesut Ozil.
The Gunners fan had every confidence his new wife would see the funny side – and thankfully for all concerned, she did.
And that wasn’t the only bit of good news for Ben. For when the German midfielder, the inspiration behind Arsenal’s challenge for the Premier League title, saw a video of the speech, he tweeted Ben to say he wanted to congratulate the newlyweds and invite them to a match.
Ben told the Observer how he had written his groom’s speech a couple of weeks before the wedding, which was at Holy Cross Church, North Bersted, and was followed by a reception - and that now-famous speech - at the Goodwood Hotel.
“I wanted to include a bit of everything in it - emotion, humour, the lot, and eventually I hit upon the idea of having an Arsenal joke in there,” said Ben.
“We always joke about how much I love Arsenal and I was thinking ‘how can I get Arsenal in the speech?’. Eventually I changed a bit of my speech that everyone was going to think was going to be about her, and then I decided as Mesut Ozil has been playing so well, I’d say I’d been talking about him.
“I only told one person and that was a friend of mine, Matt Wilson, who was one of the ushers. He’s a comedian so I thought he should know if it would work – and he said it would.
“I wasn’t worried if Kirsty wouldn’t find it funny. I knew she would. We know each other well enough – and I did follow it with some nice words about her too!”
In his speech, which can be seen on Youtube and via this story at www.bognor.co.uk, Ben said: “I think everyone in this room knows that this person has made me the happiest guy on the planet... I wake up every day and I still can’t grasp the fact that this someone is in my life.
I know it’s difficult to find someone who makes you feel this way and I’m never, ever going to take it for granted. So can we please raise a toast ... to Mesut Ozil.
“I feel incredibly lucky, and all that I hope is that this special someone knows from the bottom of my heart how much they truly mean to me. I know it’s difficult to find someone who makes you feel this way and I’m never, ever going to take it for granted.”
He then added the killer line: “So can we please raise a toast ... to Mesut Ozil – thank you!”
A picture of Ozil was flashed up at the same time as guests roared with laughter. Those laughing included Kirsty, although she did get in a good-natured slap for her new husband.
That was as far as the joke went at the time of the October wedding, but things went crazy last week after Ben saw Ozil asking fans to send him funny items on Facebook in line with supporters making jokes out of the midfielder’s many goal ‘assists’ this season.
Ben said: “In the back of my mind I liked the idea of Mesut seeing the video but I didn’t ever think he would. Then when I saw his competition on Facebook, in which he was offering a signed T-shirt as a prize, I asked my followers on Twitter - and I have a lot of Arsenal-supporting followers - to tweet and retweet about it.
“It got picked up on Facebook by the Sports Bible and suddenly it got a million views in two days. I couldn’t believe it. Then Piers Morgan, a big Arsenal fan, alerted Mesut Ozil to it and it got picked up by a couple of papers. Then the icing on the cake was a tweet to me from the man himself.”
Ozil tweeted Ben to give his verdict on the speech, saying: “Well said! I’ll congratulate you both personally after your honeymoon and I’ll also invite you to an #AFC game.”
Ben told us: “I hope it happens and if it does I’ll take Kirsty, even though she’s not the biggest football fan. It’ll be the second best day of my life!”
Ben’s father-in-law Dave Robinson, who is a big fan of Bognor FC and sometimes writes their match reports for the Bognor Observer, was sat at the top table next to his daughter, 23, and new son-in-law when the Ozil joke was made.
“In the build-up to it, I’d taken the mickey out of him saying he’d had years of bad luck being an Arsenal fan so he deserved some good fortune,” said Dave. “Then he sprang that surprise – we all thought it was hilarious.”