This week’s Premier League hero needs no introduction. Sarah Fitzpatrick discusses the career of Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry.
Last week we saw Arsenal lose a meaningless pre-season fixture against New York Red Bull but what was more interesting was seeing Arsenal face off against one of their legendary players and his new club. Thierry Henry played a part in the only goal of the game as his corner in the 32nd minute led to a goal scored by Bradley Wright-Phillips.
As Arsenal fans watched the French striker deliver a great cross into the Arsenal box, they must have become nostalgic about all of the great moments that Henry enjoyed as an Arsenal player. The striker had everything a Premier League player needed; pace, skill, vision, and creativity.
Henry had an amazing eye for goal as well as great ability from set pieces. This outstanding talent led to Henry scoring an impressive 175 goals in 258 Premier League appearances.
Here is one of his more memorable ones:
Henry was born on the 17th of August 1977 in a suburb of Paris where he played for many local sides in many different positions. This led to him being spotted by AS Monaco, the club he would subsequently sign for, and his impressive form led to an international call up and a move to Italian side Juventus.
On the 3rd of August 1999, Henry moved to North London for £11m, which came as a great relief for the French striker as he struggled to settle in Italy. Henry initially struggled during his first few months at Arsenaly and even told the media that he had to be:
“re-taught everything about the art of striking”.
Hard work and determination eventually paid off for the Frenchman as he ended the season with 17 Premier League goals as Arsenal finished second in the league.
Henry gained a huge confidence boost from his successful ending to his first season at Arsenal and began to flourish for the Gunners as he became the club’s top scorer in 2000-01 as Arsenal finished second in the league again. The French striker did become frustrated at the lack of honours at the club as they lost yet another final, this time it was an F.A. Cup final to Liverpool.
In the 2001-02 season, Henry was rewarded for his hard work as he netted 24 league goals to help Arsenal to the Premier League trophy and the FA Cup while they also picked up the Community Shield that summer. The Arsenal hero continued his fine form in the Premier League the following season scoring another 24 league goals only to be outdone by Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy.
In 2002-03 Arsenal finished second behind Manchester United but they lifted the FA Cup trophy for the second season in a row. Henry’s stand out moment in the season came when he scored an incredible individual goal against bitter rivals Tottenham.
The Frenchman picked up the ball in Arsenal’s half and ran the length of the pitch while outpacing the entire Tottenham defence before putting the ball past Kasey Keller. The famous knee slide celebration in front of the Tottenham fans has subsequently been immortalised in statue form outside the new Emirates Stadium.The striker was also named PFA Player of the Year in the 2002-03 season.
Arsenal and Henry were determined to reclaim the Premier League title in 2003-04 after losing their crown to Manchester United. What transpired would go down in history.
Arsenal failed to lose any game throughout the Premier League season and the Invincibles were born.
Henry also had a successful season on a personal level as he scored a whopping 30 league goals and was named the PFA Player of the Year once again. A highlight was his individual performance against Liverpool.
Following their Champions League and F.A Cup exits days earlier, Henry rescued Arsenal’s title bid with a hat trick against Liverpool after the Gunners were losing 2-1. Arsene Wenger’s side went on to win 4-2.
The 2004-05 season came around and there was pressure was on the Invincibles to retain their title, something that they failed to do.
They did win the FA Cup again but Henry missed the final through injury. Henry returned to the top of the goal scoring charts as he netted 25 times in the league. As well as this, Henry became Arsenal’s new captain as Patrick Vieira departed the club for Juventus.
The 2005-06 season saw a new look Arsenal without the strength and presence of Vieira but Thierry Henry rose to the occasion again as he netted 27 times in the Premier League and led Arsenal to 4th.
Arsenal did not secure any silverware but Henry broke records at the North London club that season. He broke Cliff Bastin’s league goal scoring record, scored his 100th league goal for the club and became the club’s all time top goal scorer. Henry also had the pleasure of scoring the last ever league goal at Highbury.
The lack of honours in this season led to speculation that Henry would leave Arsenal but instead he proved his loyalty to the club and penned a new four-year contract.
Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, Henry’s new contract failed to prolong his career at Arsenal The 2006-07 season saw Henry plagued with injuries. He had problems with his groin, foot, hamstring, back and stomach.The French striker still managed to hit double figures by scoring ten goals in only 17 appearances.
At the end of the season, the romance between Henry and Arsenal came to an end as he moved Barcelona for €24m. There were rumours he chose to leave due to the uncertainty over Arsene Wenger’s future.
Wenger stayed on as Arsenal manager and then told the media that,
“It was Thierry’s decision to leave Arsenal, but he goes with my blessing”.
Although Henry then claimed that
“I always said that if I ever left Arsenal it would be to play for Barcelona”.
Arsenal fans were devastated but unknown to them it would not be the last time they would see the striker in an Arsenal shirt as he returned to Arsenal on loan from New York Red Bull for two months in 2012 during the MLS off season.
The striker only had a short stint back at the Emirates but he made an impact during his loan deal. He scored the only goal after coming off the bench in an FA Cup third round tie with Leeds United. Henry also scored in his last league game for Arsenal as he scored a stoppage time winner to defeat Sunderland 2-1.
Thierry Henry was easily one of the greatest players to ever play in the Premier League and his goal scoring record substantiates this fact. His skill and creativity was a joy to watch as he also racked up 77 assists in the Premier League proving he was a real team player.
Henry’s former teammates lavished praise on the Frenchman as Dennis Bergkamp said,
“If you look at the whole package, with everything Henry had, I don’t think you can find that anywhere else. You give him the ball in the right place and his acceleration will take him past any defender in the world.”
The biggest praise came from former coach and mentor Arsene Wenger.
“What made him special? He had a mixture of physical talent and technical ability, as well as remarkable intelligence and above all a great passion for the game.”
Sarah Fitzpatrick, Pundit Arena.