Arsenal legend Thierry Henry hangs up his boots
The word ‘legend’ is a superlative that is often overused in the modern day world, but in Thierry Henry’s case, there is every reason to rightly acclaim one of the best strikers in football history. Tributes continue to flood in for the 37-year-old who has decided to retire after an illustrious 20-year career in which he shone for Monaco, Juventus, Barcelona and the New York Red Bulls.
It is the 8-year spell between 1999 and 2007 where the Frenchman rose to prominence in Arsenal colours, as Arsene Wenger transformed Henry into a world-class striker that set Highbury alight. A player who had everything will always be remembered by fans for his unselfish approach to the game, and while Henry broke numerous goal-scoring records and won countless accolades, his humility and willing to create chances for others is one of many reasons why many Arsenal fans rate him as the best player in the club’s history. Although the current day team could do with a player like Henry to improve their Premier League chances, there is still a possibility that the Arsenal legend could one day return to the club as manager.
174 goals in 254 Premier League appearances for Arsenal perfectly illustrates just how deadly Henry was during his time in England. It is easy to forget that he initially struggled to find his feet in the Premier League following his move from Juventus for £11 million, but developed into arguably the best player to ever wear an Arsenal shirt thanks to Wenger taking the Frenchman under his wing and mentoring him. He remains sixth in the all-time Premier League goal-scoring charts, but his ratio of 0.68 is better than the likes of Alan Shearer, Ian Rush and Wayne Rooney thanks to a natural ability to score from anywhere.
From wonderful free-kicks and coolly taken penalties to mesmerising runs and wonder goals from outside of the area, Henry is among a rare breed of players who could produce a piece of magic and make something happen from nowhere. The wonderful flick up and 25-yard volley into the top corner against Manchester United in 2000 is a fine example of just how good Henry was, with his ability to score goals of every type making him one of the most strikers of his era in the Premier League. Henry is not only Arsenal’s top goal-scorer of all time with 228 goals, but also holds the club’s league record and is the only player to have scored over 100 goals at Highbury. Furthermore, his wonderful goal-scoring exploits for Arsenal earned him the prestigious European Golden Boot award in 2004 and 2005 at a time when Henry was at the peak of his powers.
The two-time World Player of the Year runner-up enjoyed a glittering career littered with awards at domestic and international level. Henry was part of the France national team that triumphed on home soil in the 1998 World Cup and lifted the European Championship two years later in Belgium and Holland; he ended his international career in 2010 as France’s all time top goalscorer with 51 goals, and second most capped player behind Lilian Thuram.
The Frenchman was an instrumental figure throughout one of the most successful periods in Arsenal’s history, with Henry not only lifting two Premier League titles, but also three FA Cup trophies and two Community Shields. He appeared in every PFA Team of the Year between the 2000/2001 and 2005/2006 season, and also made it into the UEFA Team of the Year five times during his time at Arsenal. Only Ruud Van Nistelrooy in 2002/2003 prevented Henry from winning five consecutive Premier League Golden Boot awards, with his first coming in 2002 and last in 2006 as he took the Premier League by storm. His surprise move to Barcelona in 2007 brought more success, with Henry part of the team that won an unprecedented sextuple 2009 which included the La Liga title, Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. Although a narrow Conference Final play-off defeat at the hands of New England Revolution denied Henry the opportunity to enjoy a fitting end to a magnificent career with another title, he will forever go down in history of one of the best players ever to grace Arsenal and the Premier League.