In the present day is Thierry Henry day for Arsenal followers.
Sure, it was on three August, 1999, that the striker arrived in north London and stayed for eight years, turn out to be a Gunners legend and, for a lot of, the perfect participant the Premier League has ever seen.
It’s been seven years since Titi retired, and 11 since he left Barcelona and started to wind down his profession in New York. Has it actually been that lengthy?
Whereas a few of us might need forgotten simply how good he was, for Arsenal followers, in fact, Henry’s brilliance can be ceaselessly etched of their recollections.
He might need gained extra silverware for Barca, however while you consider Henry, you consider Arsenal.
And for those who’ve maybe forgotten how good he was, you’ve in all probability forgotten that originally, Gooners weren’t even satisfied by his expertise.
When a low-in-confidence Henry was signed by Arsene Wenger for a reported £11million from Juventus in 1999, it was not obtained nicely. He was seen as massively overpriced.
Nicely, he quickly proved them mistaken and he left the membership eight seasons later as their all-time prime scorer, with 228 targets in 375 video games, and arguably the membership’s biggest ever legend.
Henry completed his Arsenal profession with two Premier League winners medals, in addition to a wealth of particular person awards, together with 4 Golden Boots.
However he wasn’t only a goalscorer. He was a deadly finisher, sure, however he might do every thing else. He might ping a go, slot one by way of, he might shrug off defenders, he might run very, very quick – simply ask Jamie Carragher – all whereas retaining the ball prefer it was taped to his boots.
He wasn’t fairly as spectacular after becoming a member of Barcelona, however nonetheless bagged 49 targets and 27 assists in 121 matches and gained seven titles, together with a superb league, cup and European treble in 2008/09.
Henry usually confronted criticism for not fairly hitting the identical heights for his nation as he did in his membership profession however, come on, he lifted the World Cup, European Championship and can also be nonetheless France’s prime scoring participant with 51 targets in 124 video games.
He had the Va Va Voom off the pitch too – the striker was the quilt star of Professional Evolution Soccer when it was truly a greater and extra widespread sport that FIFA – was that as a result of it had Henry on the entrance? We’d prefer to suppose so.
He was ranked No.1 in Arsenal’s official ’50 Best Gamers’ listing, and was described on their web site as ‘the child within the playground who was higher than everybody else with the ball at his toes’.
And we couldn’t have put it higher. It was merely true. In his pomp, there was no equal in the entire of the Premier League.
There was an ego, a vanity about the way in which he performed, however not in a nasty method. He earned it, he was simply that good. It was nearly unfair.
However what have his pals, foes, coaches and distant admirers stated concerning the legend?
And let’s be clear, that is about Henry as a participant, not a supervisor. Let’s not go there…
Former supervisor Arsene Wenger:
“Thierry Henry might take the ball in the midst of the park and rating a objective that nobody else on this planet might rating.
“He’s a participant who had every thing you dream of as a supervisor.
“What makes him particular? He has a mix of bodily expertise and technical capacity, in addition to outstanding intelligence and above all a fantastic ardour for the sport.
“And what folks additionally neglect for a lot of prime degree athletes, is he was devoted to his job, with a really critical life. He’s merely a mannequin skilled who gained every thing you possibly can in our world.”
Arsenal legend Alan Smith:
“Henry is the perfect participant I’ve ever seen ply his commerce on this nation. Not simply the perfect striker, however the perfect participant, because of the truth that I noticed him do issues nobody else has executed.
“He decreased top-class opponents into helpless also-rans. He completely embarrassed seasoned professionals along with his outrageous tempo, power, talent and confidence.
“He can do issues Ronaldo can’t. When he’s within the temper there’s no stopping him. He elevated the striker’s artwork on to a degree not seen earlier than or since.”
After profitable the Ballon d’Or in 2003, the Juventus legend admitted his shock that Henry completed second within the vote. Says all of it.
“For me, Thierry Henry is the perfect ahead on this planet now.
“I’m very joyful. I didn’t suppose I might beat Thierry Henry, Paolo Maldini or Zinedine Zidane and if I had voted I might have voted for Thierry and for the opposite gamers on the rostrum.
“I’m very joyful for myself, my spouse, my kids and nation however I don’t know the way I beat Thierry Henry or Zinedine Zidane.”
That consequence has been referred to as one of many greatest robberies in soccer historical past.
That yr, Henry scored 32 targets and conjured up an astounding 28 assists in 55 video games in all competitions – together with 20 within the Premier League, which stays a document for assists in a single season.
Nedved, in the meantime, bought 9 targets, two assists in 29 Serie A video games. And he was named the European Footballer of the yr. What?
After the ceremony in France, Wenger stated: “Thierry Henry will go a really good distance and every thing will depend upon him. He is an exceptional participant.”
How proper he was.
Former Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli:
“The one solution to cease Thierry Henry? With a gun!”
“Ronaldinho is a particular participant, however Thierry Henry might be technically essentially the most gifted footballer ever to play the gorgeous sport.”
The Barcelona icon, arguably the best participant of all time, stated he was scared to look Henry within the face when he arrived on the Nou Camp. Let that sink in.
“The primary day he entered the dressing room, I didn’t dare to look him within the face,” Messi informed L’Equipe.
“I knew every thing he had executed in England. I had a picture of him made and all of the sudden we had been on the identical group.
“What I really feel for Titi could also be a type of admiration.
“I beloved Henry. The benefit of ending an motion, how he takes the highway to the objective and ends the play.
“He gives the look that it’s pure. His profession, his dribbling, the final gesture. It’s fluid, proportionate.”
Former Arsenal teammate Ray Parlour, chatting with talkSPORT:
“In his first 5 – 6 video games he couldn’t hit a barn door. He simply couldn’t end. I used to be considering: ‘Oh no, we’re not going to win the league, we haven’t bought an opportunity!’
“However what a participant he turned out to be – he might win a sport on his personal.
“The sport that at all times stands proud in my thoughts was through the unbeaten season. We bought knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester United after which we misplaced to Chelsea within the Champions League, and we had Liverpool within the league on the weekend.
“At half time we had been 2-1 down, so it might have been a horrendous week, however within the second-half Henry was completely unplayable. That’s the sport the place he dribbled previous Didi Hamann, Jamie Carragher fell over and simply slid the ball into the nook. He ended up with a hat-trick and we gained 4-2!
“I used to be very fortunate to play with some good finishers and I believed no person might beat Ian Wright ‘s scoring document, however Thierry beat it by 50-odd targets!
“What a participant!”
Jamie Carragher on THAT well-known objective in opposition to Liverpool:
“When he hit prime gear and ran previous you, it was like attempting to chase after somebody on a bike.
“Typically as a defender in opposition to a number of the prime gamers we had at the moment – Alan Shearer, Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie – there’s not loads you are able to do in sure conditions as a result of they had been that good. However in his prime, Henry would merely run previous you and there wasn’t loads I might do.
“When Arsenal had been ‘The Invincibles’, Henry rivalled Ronaldinho as the perfect on this planet. An awesome goal-scorer, to not point out a scorer of nice targets.
“He’s the best participant I’ve seen within the Premier League. His sport didn’t have a weak point.”
Ronaldinho was an enormous fan:
“Henry is a gorgeous participant and has bought full approach, I am keen on watching him. I respect him very a lot as a person and as a footballer. He jogs my memory of myself.”
And there’s no better praise.
“Thierry is the perfect striker on this planet, by far. Thierry doesn’t simply rating targets, even when he’s not having a superb day he could make an essential go. He’s a robust character. If issues go mistaken, he bounces straight again. His impact on the membership could be very massive.”
“On his day he was completely scintillating, a supreme athlete and an impressive footballer. What amazed me was that he by no means appeared to get a sweat on. He might run 100 meters previous 5 gamers and he wouldn’t even be respiration closely.”
“Henry was so fast, so sleek. It was nearly like he might run by way of a puddle and wouldn’t make a splash. He was that good, it was easy through the sport.
“The primary time I performed in opposition to him, he used to float to the left facet of the pitch, he used to chop in, choose the ball up, go previous two, and simply bend it into the nook.
“Boy, how do you try this? He was such a superb participant.”
And eventually, Martin Keown with a quote that just about brings a tear to the attention…
“I do keep in mind saying to him when he scored his first objective, ‘I’ll be capable of inform my children I performed with you,’ and I meant each phrase of it.
“He stated I used to be loopy afterwards, however I had seen a particular participant and I made positive he knew that.”