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“The team has to score, not me.”

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has opened up on his goalscoring battles with former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Henry admitted that he would keep tabs on Van Nistelrooy’s goals tally back when they were competing for the Golden Boot but added that he never let their rivalry “dictate” his game.

Thierry Henry

Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Earlier in the month, Van Nistelrooy spoke with Rio Ferdinand on his Vibe with Five show.

The Dutchman revealed that legendary Man United manager Alex Ferguson denied him the chance to win the Golden Boot in 2002. Ruud also outlined how he was eager to “keep up” with Henry during their goalscoring rivalry that campaign.

“I wanted to compete with him, I needed to get my levels there,” the 44-year-old said.

Ruud van Nistelrooy

“It was clear in my head when he (Ferguson) left me in the stands that I was already starting the new season. I was sitting there watching the game checking if Thierry scored.

“He wanted to get me fired up for the next season. I wanted to keep up with Thierry.”

Henry on Van Nistelrooy rivalry.

Henry appeared on The Robbie Fowler Podcast and he was asked if he used to keep an eye on Van Nistelrooy’s goals tally.

“Yes, I did, because it’s normal. You’re battling against someone,” Henry replied.

“I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect me, but it didn’t dictate me. It didn’t dictate my game. I knew what I had to do for my team, I wasn’t going to shoot from every angle just for the sake of beating Ruud – and he was a hell of a player, don’t get me wrong.

Thierry Henry

“The most important thing – as I always say – is we have to score. I don’t have to score. More often than not it would be me, but the team has to score, not me.

“We have to win, not me. ‘You look at it, I didn’t score a lot of goals at Arsenal in my career where we lost the game. Those goals – I’m still taking them, don’t take them away from me! – but those goals didn’t mean anything for me.

“The goals that I scored and we lost, they didn’t mean anything for me. Like I wasn’t going, ‘you know what, I’ve done my job, we lost 3-2 but I scored two goals, I don’t care’. No, I cared. I cared because I didn’t do enough – and that’s how you should feel as an individual.

Thierry Henry

“So yes, did I look at Van Nistelrooy’s goals? Yes! Did I look at if Man United had won? Yes! It’s the same thing. It’s not always individual, we were battling with them so obviously, I’m looking at what Man United did after the game.

“Then I’m battling with Ruud van Nistelrooy, and I’m looking at that. So yes I did look at it, but that wasn’t going to dictate the person and the player I was going to be.”


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