Sunday, June 24, 2007

Thierry Henry: a tribute to the greatest Arsenal player I've seen.


I thought it'd be a few more years before I wrote this post, but the time has come sooner than expected.

To say his transfer was a shock would be a considerable understatement; you only have to look at my previous post to see that. And to pretend that Thierry is somehow faultless and beyond criticism is similarly wrong. You only have to ask Jose Reyes that.

But now is the time to say thank you, and pay tribute to Thierry Henry.

To me, he is without a shadow of a doubt the best player I've seen in my 16 years as an Arsenal supporter. Vieira, Bergkamp, Adams, Wright: of course, they're all up there. Yet Thierry has something more than those other legends. He produced utterly sublime and incomparable moments of brilliance that changed games and won matches. He scored some of the greatest goals I've seen, and he did them playing for our club.

Ok, so he had a bit of an ego on him; one that was not always used productively. But wouldn't you if you were that good? And wasn't his swagger part of the reason we all loved him so much. I can't measure the joy I used to get from watching Thierry score, and then turn to the opposition fans with a look on his face that said, 'I am Thierry Henry; we are The Arsenal; who the hell are you?'

He may not have scored in the cup finals we had with him, but it was, more often than not, his goals that got us to those finals. His exhausted legs may not have been able to seal a Champions League Victory, but it was his goals against Madrid and Juventus, his pass against Villareal, and even his freekick in the final that took us to within a hair's breadth of that cup.

My favourite Henry goal? Well, obviously his flick over the head against United, or his 100mph, pitch-long slalom run against Spuds are right up there. Thierry himself says it was his second goal against Liverpool in 2004, the goal that put the invincibles back on track. Whilst it's hard to argue with that, my favourite is his goal in Madrid, as it exemplified almost every aspect of his brilliance: his ability to burst past players at speed, to change and win matches, to figuratively and literally shrug off opponents, and to ensure his finish slid past the keeper. And, of course, the occasion was rather good as well.



Remember: no-one has died. Thierry's departure is more like a best-friend moving away, or when one of your siblings grows up and leaves home: you'll keep in contact but, it's never quite the same. It hurts, but it's not the end of the world.

Finally, I'd like to re-iterate my thanks. Thierry has given me and so many other Arsenal fans so much happiness in the eight seasons he played for our club. I don't begrudge him the move one bit, even if his reasoning (particularly the parts about David Dein) are a little hard to swallow. There will be more posts this week on the ramifications and nature of the transfer, particularly focussing on what I feel to be the real reasons for the transfer. I really don't think that David Dein's departure has much to do with Thierry's. Also, he was hardly the greatest captain in the world.

But for today at least, let's focus on the good times. Thierry said in an interview that playing for Arsenal was an honour; well I'd like to say that watching him play for our club was an honour. For at least a couple of his seasons at our club, the greatest player in the world was an Arsenal player. I'll never forget that. So long Thierry, and good luck.


22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am so heartbroken it's as if i have no heart inside me...great, great loss for us Arsenal fans and for the premiership as well...

Anonymous said...

Here here. If there was ever such thing as being in love with a man without being homosexual - Thierry Henry it was for me. I particularly like your comment of "for a couple of seasons at least, the greatest player in the world was an Arsenal player" - love that. It's so true.

I'm gonna miss him so much, but I can understand why he has embarked on this challenge, it can't have been an easy decision for him - but we will carry on and fight without him....Van Persie will step up to the plate no doubt.

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES THIERRY, you were the greatest player this country has ever seen.

Raja, London

Anonymous said...

that video shed a tear to my eye :(

...makes me wonder how the hell we are going to replace a player like that!!??

Please sign someone...this is the worst summer ever!

gazzap said...

what a truly fantastic player he is and we were unbeleiveably lucky to have him for so long and to see his magic for all those years. Barca might get 2 good years if they are lucky, we had 3 times that amount out of the best player in the world. Henry is still a gooner deep down, so lets always welcome him back to the Emirates whenever he comes since he still has his box there.

Anonymous said...

an idiot got rid of! he aint a loss move on arses.

Anonymous said...

an idiot got rid of! he aint a loss move on arses.

Anonymous said...

Class article...

I have to admit i thought that last season i thought henry may have been becoming a problem to the team due to his overall presence on and off the field...and i was possibly thinking if the sale of henry was to materialise it may not be the worst move for either parties...However upon the reality of what has happened and on viewing the good times (which could span days of youtube video), i didn't think it would hurt this bad....
cheers thierry...thanks for being the most awesome player i have ever seen!!!!

from

arsenal in leeds/manc

Anonymous said...

Your article is worldclass. The greatest player in the world was an arsenal man.Thank you thierry Henry. I wiash you all the best with Barca except when you play against Arsenal and real madrid. I pray that no more injuries befall you. I also pray you continue your genuis in Spain. God bless you my man

Anonymous said...

Blinded by his goals? Understandable but wrong: the greatest ever Arsenal player was beyond any doubt Dennis Bergkamp!!

Anonymous said...

Dennis Bergkamp?

Not a patch on Brady!

Anonymous said...

Dennis Bergkamp for me. The best player and his arrival signalled to players all over the world that Arsenal were a world class club in the making. He was a consummate professional and teacher and his ego did not get in the way.

But thanks for the goals Thierry.

Terenceno14 said...

Couldnt agree more - I really hope all the fans remember him for the great times and an Arsenal hero rather than getting on his back just because he's gone. The guy will always be our greatest ever player - so many great times. Farewell and thanks for everything Terence!

Anonymous said...

wow i'm goona miss that boy so much :(

When I read this post I started crying. But maybe we should be happy for him because this is something he wanted to do.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Thierry was the best player to ever wear the Arsenal shirt.
But, he´s a liar all he said about I´ll never play in spain is just a bunch of nonsence, he´ll just get injured last year and won´t play a lot !
But he has scored many great goals in the past an anyway thanks for giving us loads of great seasons.
Alex h-g

TH said...

yea .. TH was indeed one of the greatest players of arsenal ....
n he still has a lot in him ... bloody AW lost his senses sellin him for 16 million .. old age cathcin up with him ....
but it is not th's departure that worries me , it is AW's departure next year that he has so publicly displayed, is wat worries me most ... where will afc find a manager of AW's brilliance , of spotting talent n grooming them into stars ??
it is time that the board sits up and takes notice of the troubles facing the club, especially after the emirates stadium has eaten into the treasury ... partly thats the reason AW might have sold off TH ...

The Muso said...

I realise that this is a tribute piece rather a speculative one, but has anyone considered whether TH's departure changes anything as far as Jose Reyes is concerned?

Reyes apparently struggled to adapt to the English life and language and this may or may not be the case. However, if one were to judge exclusively on what we have seen on the pitch, the conclusion would be that his biggest problem at Arsenal was Henry.

Reyes is a left winger, not an inside left like Pires, but a genuine winger looking to take up forward positions on that flank. The problem of course is that in pretty much everything other than title, so is Henry. There was bound to be a problem.

It was of course right that Henry should win out as he is and probably will be the better player. What did sicken me was the way that Henry appeared to single Reyes out time and again. Reyes was the only competition to Henry that Wenger signed during TH's time at the club and our departing captain's attitude toward him stank.

Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised to see Reyes start the season with club and revel in his new found freedom. He fits our needs too - a genuine winger who can cover up front. He also wouldn't cost anything and is far closer to the finished product than Babel.

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