“We need our identity back.”
Thierry Henry has sent an emotional message to Arsenal fans in the aftermath of the club’s initial decision to join the European Super League.
The contentious breakaway league involved 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs but since Sunday night’s announcement, 10 of the 12 have announced their desire to withdraw from the league, including all six Premier League clubs.
Arsenal’s club record goalscorer is on a self-enforced social media break, until – what he describes as – the “toxic” racist abuse and bullying online is tackled by social media companies.
Nevertheless, he spoke to The Daily Telegraph regarding Arsenal’s initial involvement in the European Super League, and he was very emotional when asked about the situation.
“This club belongs to the fans, I love the club and I will support the club until I die,” Henry said.
“But, I do not recognise my club and what happened just now, with them trying to join a league that would have been closed, makes no sense to me.
“They have been running the club like a company, not a football club, and they showed their hand. Maybe it’s a lack of understanding of the core football values and maybe the money was too big of a temptation.
“But whatever it was, they got it wrong. Badly wrong.
“I was genuinely shocked like most people and couldn’t believe what was unfolding. I have never talked before, but what happened recently made me realise fans, this is your club.
“It is your club and I’m an Arsenal fan too. I’m proud of what the fans achieved. Not just Arsenal fans, all the fans. The result was a victory for football.”
A protest against the club’s owner, Stan Kroenke, was held outside the Emirate Stadium before Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Everton.
Henry wants to see his old club get their identity back, an identity he feels has been lost since his time playing in North London.
“I remember when I arrived, not the Tottenham fans or our rivals, but a lot of the time I used to hear, ‘My second team, if I had to pick one, is Arsenal’, because of the history, the culture, the class, the family,” Henry added.
“But I don’t hear that or see that anymore and it pains me. We need to get that image back. We need our identity back.”