On this present day 21 years in the past, Thierry Henry signed for Arsenal and the remainder, they are saying, is historical past.
The French striker would keep on the north London membership for eight years, turn into a Gunners legend and, for a lot of, the perfect participant the Premier League has ever seen.
A daring declare, sure, nevertheless it’s one backed up by a few of soccer’s different nice icons who all agree – the Frenchman was a sight to behold in his prime.
It’s been six years since Titi retired, and TEN since he left Barcelona and commenced to wind down his profession in New York. Has it actually been that lengthy?
Whereas a few of us may need forgotten simply how good he was, for Arsenal followers, after all, Henry’s brilliance might be perpetually etched of their recollections.
He may need received extra silverware for Barca, however if you consider Henry, you consider Arsenal.
And should you’ve maybe forgotten how good he was, you’ve most likely forgotten that originally, Gooners weren’t satisfied.
When a low-in-confidence Henry was signed by Arsene Wenger for a reported £11million from Juventus in 1999, it was not obtained nicely. He was seen as massively overpriced.
Properly, he quickly proved them fallacious and he left the membership eight seasons later as their all-time high scorer, with 228 objectives in 375 video games, and arguably the membership’s best ever legend.
Henry completed his Arsenal profession with two Premier League winners medals, in addition to a wealth of particular person awards, together with 4 Golden Boots.
However he wasn’t only a goalscorer. He was a deadly finisher, sure, however he may do all the pieces else. He may ping a cross, slot one by, he may shrug off defenders, he may run very, very quick – simply ask Jamie Carragher – all whereas holding the ball prefer it was taped to his boots.
He wasn’t fairly as spectacular after becoming a member of Barcelona, however nonetheless bagged 49 objectives and 27 assists in 121 matches and received seven titles, together with an excellent league, cup and European treble in 2008/09.
Henry typically confronted criticism for not fairly hitting the identical heights for his nation as he did in his membership profession however, come on, he lifted the World Cup, European Championship and can be nonetheless France’s high scorer with 51 objectives in 124 video games.
He had the Va Va Voom off the pitch too – the striker was the duvet star of Professional Evolution Soccer when it was truly a greater and extra well-liked sport that FIFA – was that as a result of it had Henry on the entrance? We’d prefer to assume so.
He was ranked No.1 in Arsenal’s official ’50 Biggest Gamers’ checklist, and was described on their web site as ‘the child within the playground who was higher than everybody else with the ball at his ft’.
And we couldn’t have put it higher. It was merely true. In his pomp, there was no equal in the entire of the Premier League.
There was an ego, a vanity about the way in which he performed, however not in a foul method. He earned it, he was simply that good. It was virtually unfair.
However what have his buddies, foes, coaches and distant admirers stated in regards to the French legend? Have a look beneath!
And let’s be clear, that is about Henry as a participant, not a supervisor. Let’s not go there…
“Thierry Henry may take the ball in the midst of the park and rating a purpose that nobody else on the planet may rating.
“He’s a participant who had all the pieces you dream of as a supervisor.
“What makes him particular? He has a combination of bodily expertise and technical skill, in addition to outstanding intelligence and above all an awesome ardour for the sport.
“And what folks additionally overlook for a lot of high stage athletes, is he was devoted to his job, with a really critical life. He’s merely a mannequin skilled who received all the pieces you’ll be able to in our world.”
Arsenal legend Alan Smith:
“Henry is the perfect participant I’ve ever seen ply his commerce on this nation. Not simply the perfect striker, however the perfect participant, as a consequence of the truth that I noticed him do issues nobody else has performed.
“He diminished top-class opponents into helpless also-rans. He completely embarrassed seasoned professionals along with his outrageous tempo, power, ability and confidence.
“He can do issues Ronaldo can’t. When he’s within the temper there’s no stopping him. He elevated the striker’s artwork on to a stage not seen earlier than or since.”
After profitable the Ballon d’Or in 2003, the Juventus legend admitted his shock that Henry completed second within the vote. Says all of it.
“For me, Thierry Henry is the perfect ahead on the planet now.
“I’m very completely happy. I didn’t assume I might beat Thierry Henry, Paolo Maldini or Zinedine Zidane and if I had voted I might have voted for Thierry and for the opposite gamers on the rostrum.
“I’m very completely happy for myself, my spouse, my kids and nation however I don’t understand how I beat Thierry Henry or Zinedine Zidane.”
That consequence has been referred to as one of many greatest robberies in soccer historical past.
That 12 months, Henry scored 32 objectives and conjured up an astounding 28 assists in 55 video games in all competitions – together with 20 within the Premier League, which stays a report for assists in a single season.
Nedved, in the meantime, received 9 objectives, two assists in 29 Serie A video games. And he was named the European Footballer of the 12 months. What?
After the ceremony in France, Wenger stated: “Thierry Henry will go a really good distance and all the pieces will rely on him. He is an exceptional participant.”
How proper he was.
Former Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli:
“The one strategy to cease Thierry Henry? With a gun!”
“Ronaldinho is a particular participant, however Thierry Henry might be technically essentially the most gifted footballer ever to play the gorgeous sport.”
The Barcelona icon, arguably the best participant of all time, stated he was scared to look Henry within the face when he arrived on the Nou Camp. Let that sink in.
“The primary day he entered the dressing room, I didn’t dare to look him within the face,” Messi informed L’Equipe.
“I knew all the pieces he had performed in England. I had a picture of him made and out of the blue we had been on the identical staff.
“What I really feel for Titi could also be a type of admiration.
“I beloved Henry. The benefit of ending an motion, how he takes the highway to the purpose and ends the play.
“He gives the look that it’s pure. His profession, his dribbling, the final gesture. It’s fluid, proportionate.”
Ray Parlour, chatting with talkSPORT:
“In his first 5 – 6 video games he couldn’t hit a barn door. He simply couldn’t end. I used to be pondering: ‘Oh no, we’re not going to win the league, we haven’t received an opportunity!’
“However what a participant he turned out to be – he may win a sport on his personal.
“The sport that all the time stands proud in my thoughts was in the course of the unbeaten season. We received knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester United after which we misplaced to Chelsea within the Champions League, and we had Liverpool within the league on the weekend.
“At half time we had been 2-1 down, so it may have been a horrendous week, however within the second-half Henry was completely unplayable. That’s the sport the place he dribbled previous Didi Hamann, Jamie Carragher fell over and simply slid the ball into the nook. He ended up with a hat-trick and we received 4-2!
“I used to be very fortunate to play with some good finishers and I believed no one may beat Ian Wright ‘s scoring report, however Thierry beat it by 50-odd objectives!
“What a participant!”
Jamie Carragher on THAT well-known purpose towards Liverpool:
“When he hit high gear and ran previous you, it was like making an attempt to chase after somebody on a bike.
“Generally as a defender towards a number of the high gamers we had at the moment – Alan Shearer, Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie – there’s not quite a bit you are able to do in sure conditions as a result of they had been that good. However in his prime, Henry would merely run previous you and there wasn’t quite a bit I may do.
“When Arsenal had been ‘The Invincibles’, Henry rivalled Ronaldinho as the perfect on the planet. An incredible goal-scorer, to not point out a scorer of nice objectives.
“He’s the best participant I’ve seen within the Premier League. His sport didn’t have a weak spot.”
Ronaldinho was an enormous fan:
“Henry is a phenomenal participant and has received full approach, I like watching him. I respect him very a lot as a person and as a footballer. He jogs my memory of myself.”
And there’s no higher praise.
“Thierry is the perfect striker on the planet, by far. Thierry doesn’t simply rating objectives, even when he’s not having a superb day he could make an necessary cross. He’s a robust character. If issues go fallacious, he bounces straight again. His impact on the membership may be very huge.”
“On his day he was completely scintillating, a supreme athlete and a powerful footballer. What amazed me was that he by no means appeared to get a sweat on. He may run 100 meters previous 5 gamers and he wouldn’t even be respiratory closely.”
“Henry was so fast, so sleek. It was virtually like he may run by a puddle and wouldn’t make a splash. He was that good, it was easy in the course of the sport.
“The primary time I performed towards him, he used to float to the left aspect of the pitch, he used to chop in, choose the ball up, go previous two, and simply bend it into the nook.
“Boy, how do you do this? He was such a superb participant.”
And at last, Martin Keown with a quote that nearly brings a tear to the attention…
“I do keep in mind saying to him when he scored his first purpose, ‘I’ll be capable of inform my children I performed with you,’ and I meant each phrase of it.
“He stated I used to be loopy afterwards, however I had seen a particular participant and I made certain he knew that.”