While news that Thierry Henry has announced his retirement from the game was not overwhelmingly shocking, it is certainly a sad day around the soccer world. Calling Henry a former Arsenal great would not give him enough credit for what he did for the north London club. Thierry Henry is not only most likely the greatest Arsenal player of all time, but he is also perhaps the best Premier League player ever as well.
Personally, Thierry Henry is my favorite player to ever set foot on a pitch. He is one of the biggest reasons why I started supporting Arsenal, and why I will always support the Gunners. Henry was not only my favorite player for the amount of goals that he scored during his eight seasons (and two months in 2012), but it was his style of play that made me a superfan.
The Frenchman played with flair. He knew he was exceptionally talented and was not afraid to show anyone who was willing to watch. Between audacious shots at goal, no-look passes, and mazy dribbles down the pitch, Henry brought a certain style to soccer that was undeniably fresh and easy on the eyes.
When manager Arsene Wenger bought Henry from Italian giants Juventus in 1999 for then a club record fee of £11 million, few people in the sport assumed that the Frenchman would turn into a world class player. As Henry struggled in his first few months with the club, he had been labeled the French Perry Groves (hint: that’s not a good thing). Nevertheless, once he got his taste for goal, Henry could not stop scoring for Arsenal. The then fresh-faced 22-year-old scored an incredible 26 total goals in his first season in England.
Henry would not only score plenty of goals, but he would score both incredible solo goals and extremely important team goals. The run down one side of the pitch, score, and run back down the pitch versus bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur in 2002 not only produced my favorite sports image in the history of time, but his celebration at the end would be cast into bronze and made into a statue in front of the Emirates Stadium.
As Henry kneels in front of Spurs fans following the goal, the looks on the opposing fans faces are priceless. Some look on in anger (a few middle fingers can be seen), some disappointment, some even expressionless. But all of these emotions in the famous photo have something in common: there is undoubtedly a general discomfort in the Spurs’ section of the stands, something that brings a wry smile to the faces all of Gooners around the world.
His dipping volley against Manchester United in October two years prior to the aforementioned goal is arguably his most iconic goal in an Arsenal kit. The wonder goal was produced out of nowhere by an outstanding first touch, confidence that he could actually score from where he was on the pitch, and ultimately a world clash finish to give Arsenal the 1-0 victory over the Red Devils.
Ultimately, Henry and Wenger should go down as synonymous stars at both Arsenal and the Premier League in general. Wenger’s faith to convert Henry as a center forward and the player’s ability to repay his manager’s faith is something truly special. While Henry has signed on to become a pundit with Sky Sports, there would not be many surprised Arsenal fans to see Henry return to the north London club in some capacity in the near future. Henry is Arsenal through and through.
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