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Congratulations Thierry

Once we were eradicated from the competition after 10 or so minutes of football at the Emirates the other night, I have been struggling to decide who I would be rooting for in the Final. I thought about it for the remainder of the match against United as it was a good way of keeping my mind off the elimination. I wish I could just ignored the game entirely, but the Champions League final is too big of a match for me to ignore. Also I have plenty of United and Barca supporting mates that were very happy to remind me they were in the final and I was not.

To go for Barca or to go for Manure? That was the question. I hate both teams. Barcelona for always hounding our players every summer and United for being, well, United. I always like to see English teams win in European competitions because it brings me the utmost happiness to know Platini cannot stand to witness English success. But I could not fathom the thought of Manchester United being the first team to successfully retain the Champions League crown. After much internal debate, I had decided to somehow remain a neutral, though I knew that would not last. For me in any football match I watch, its natural to find favour in one side or another. It makes every game, even the most run of the mill, much more interesting. So I had planned to be a neutral. That was untill I found myself watching the Invincible season review last weekend.

I don't think I had ever truly forgiven Henry for the way he left. I didn't like it one bit. Acknowledging everything he did for this club, most fans accepted it and still loved him dearly, despite the fact he was wearing different colours. For me it took almost two years.

He said it was going to be his last contract and that he has never played in Spain and he never will. I believed him. He was my favourite player and I loved him dearly. That's why, when he left, it felt personal, as I'm sure it did to many of you. I'm not that old. I first started following the club after watching the 1998 FA Cup final with my Grandfather at the tender age of 7. Anelka left, and Wenger signed Thierry Henry in 1999. So for the overwhelmingly majority of my days supporting Arsenal, Henry was the face of the club. When he left I got my first real sense of how no player is bigger than the club. My mother, who to be fair is not into football at all, asked me would I now support Barcelona? Life goes on, and Arsenal was my life. It made me cringe to see pictures of him at the Nou Camp being introduced to the Barca faithful, and it hurt even more to see him kiss the Blaugrana badge after scoring a goal early in his first season.

It was pretty obvious why he left. He wanted a European medal and he didn't think Arsene's new Arsenal squad could get that for him. I thought if he would have only finished one of his glorious opportunities in Paris, he would already have a Champions League title to his name. If he wasn't winning it with Arsenal, I didn't want him to win it at all.

This though was very childish and selfish of me, and I have come to realize that. It has taken me much longer than the average Arsenal supporter to sit back and take emotions out of this. All that he did for this club is incredible, and no amount of words can accurately describe the mark he left on Arsenal FC. He gifted me a countless number of fantastic memories of fantastic goals. Acutally, it was two hundred and twenty six memories to be exact. That's why I could not help but smile yesterday when I saw Henry wearing the big eared trophy, he coveted so much, as a hat. I have figured out that he is still in my heart, and after reading his post match quotes, I also figured out he still has us in his heart as well.
"[The Final in Paris] will always remain the disappointment of my life"

"Arsenal was in my heart and in my blood, everyone knows that."

Legend. The King of Highbury. Congratulations Henry. You deserve it. Enjoy the moment while it lasts, because Arsene is gunning for your crown next year!

Also I cannot forget to mention another former Arsenal player representing Barcelona yesterday, Sylvinho. A congratulations to him is in order as well. As for Hleb, he can **** off for all I care.

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The Journalist

Writer: Brice Coffer Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday May 28 2009

Time: 4:51AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Good article LD. very happy for henry, would have really made me depressed if Utd had won becos as you say, they would have been the first team to retain the crown. For now, i hope we strengthen the team over summer and come back to the UCL stronger next season. Well done again to my favourite non-arsenal player, THIERRY HENRY!!!!!!
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28/05/2009 05:18:00

I do want to make it clear that this is a congratulations to Thierry Henry, not Barcelona. I still hate them, and truthfully I don't even think they should have been in the final. Chelsea should have. Side note here, but who else laughed at Hleb yesterday? Wasn't even named to the bench! Haha
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28/05/2009 05:21:00

What are you on about first team to retain the Cup? Real did it 5 times in its first 5 years. Benfica won it the next two years, after a year break, Inter won it twice in a row. Between 71 and 80 Ajax and Bayern Munich both won it 3 times in a row and Liverpool and Nottingham Forest both won it back to back. And in 88 and 89 Milan won it back to back.
Ozi Gooner
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28/05/2009 05:25:00

Yes in the old European format many teams have retained it, but I said they would be the first to retain the Champions League, which is the current format of the competition. Since its conception in 1992, no team has won it back to back.
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28/05/2009 05:30:00

Hardly relevant seeing as it's the same cup, only devalued slightly by the fact that it no longer loves up to its name of the 'Champions' league
Ozi Gooner
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28/05/2009 05:39:00

Happy for Henry. As for Hleb, he wasn't even in the squad so no medal for him. HAHAHA
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28/05/2009 05:46:00

If you say so. I think it is perfectly relevant. To me, the Champions League represents European competition's shift to modern day football. Football that is dominated by money. Money has made football harder to achieve success in. Therefore nobody retaining the CL trophy shows how hard consistent success is in Europe, which makes it noteworthy if somebody did win it back to back.
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28/05/2009 05:48:00

Sadly codchops, Hleb has managed seven appearances for Barca in the CL. So he did receive a medal. I saw he prancing around and celebrating like he actually did something after the ceremony with a gold medallion on his neck.
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28/05/2009 05:53:00

What a ****! I thought they had to be in the final squad to get a medal? I must be wrong. Cheers for the heads-up.
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28/05/2009 06:21:00

Henry is an arsenal legend! And as an Arsenal fan I am so happy for him. He has won the world cup, European championship, premier league titles (not to mention unbeaten and as top scorer), FA cups and now the champions league. I bet he must be reeling that he never won the Mickey Mouse cup (which according to the spuds are their version of any type of success ranking just above surviving relegation).
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28/05/2009 06:45:00

Congrats Terry H, it was indeed a wise decision to move on a join a big club where you could finish your career on a high winning things, if you had stayed at Arsenal this would not have happened instead your career like the club itself would have been in decline and your fall from grace like theirs would have been there for all to see plus you would have had to put with that snivelling goat*****er as your manager.
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28/05/2009 07:34:00

Congratulations Thierry! Now I seriously think soon the game will reward another deserving Frenchman who probably has slightly more time to chase the big cup than Thierry - Arsene Wenger. And I was also wondering how the veterans like Bobby, Paddy, Freddie, Sol, Gilberto, Kolo, Jens, etc. were feeling for Thierry last night, they must have felt just the same as we did.
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28/05/2009 08:05:00

Over this career, Henry richly deserves this. But two points, I don't believe, nor will I ever believe that Henry chose to leave. Trust me when I say he was sold for the good of the team for much the same reasons Adebayor will be sold this summer. The fallout Wenger and Henry had in December 06 before the Spurs game was terminal and marked the exact moment Wenger realised he had to shift Henry out of the club because his ego had become too big for our young players to grow. The team begun to belong to Fabregas and not Henry and I don't think TH ever really coped with that. The reason Henry has been sucha success at Barca this year is because he has accepted he is not the biggest fish in that pond, Messi is. Even last season, Henry found that hard to cope with. Secondly, it is amazing that Henry has still yet to score in any kind of final and only has one goal in a semi final (versus Lens in the 2000 UEFA Cup) in his whole career, that's not a coincidence and again last night, whilst Iniesta, Messi and Eto'o tore Barca a new one, Henry was anonymous. Nevertheless, Henry has been one of the game's great players over the last ten years and he deserves this, it almost makes up for the fact that he was never crowned world player of the year between 2002 and 2004. That he wasn't in that time has forever rendered those awards irrelevant in my eyes. Bon faire Thierry.
Little Dutch
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28/05/2009 08:22:00

I never had a beef with Henry, I mean how could you? I was desperately disapointed that he left us, but I actually believe it was the right time, things had become a little stale. But who to root for in the final was a no brainer for me. I loathe Man Utd (though begrudgingly respect their efforts) as a whole, their team, their players, their manager, their fans .... everything. With Barca I only loathe their politics. Henry didn't play particularly well last night, but that was to be expected after featuring in a match for the first time in 20 days, but a player of his standards should have a European cup winners medal to treasure once he retires.
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28/05/2009 08:26:00

Henry is one of the main reasons we didn't that night in Paris when you consider the chances he flapped at and missed, he certainly bottled that night against Barca. I'm sure he feels better now and good on him. A great player who has won EVERY major trophy a footballer can, but tbh he isn't in an Arsenal shirt and i'm not really bothered. Good to see Utd lose though......can't have them winning everything!
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28/05/2009 08:42:00

Erm LG he NEVER won the CARLING CUP.
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28/05/2009 08:46:00

Anyone else think Ronaldo looks a lot less orange in Messi's shadow?
Little Dutch
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28/05/2009 08:47:00

Iceman LG said major trophy!
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28/05/2009 09:02:00

Im glad for Titi he won the trophy but he knows it would have felt 50x better if he'd won it in Paris. Its a bit like If Gerrard moved to Chelsea and won the Premier league, yeah you get the medal but you lose some of the emotion. I think Guardiola has been outstanding this season, the true Special one. He won that game because he instilled Barca with belief, didnt matter they had 3 of their 1st choice back 4 missing he just made them go and play their game, no doubt its easier for him to do this because he hasnt really tasted failure but its definetly something we should look at. Sometimes we just need more belief in the way we play the game, the semi final with Chelsea springs to mind.
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28/05/2009 09:03:00

Oh come on ND, Thierry must be considering a move to spurs to complete the set?
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28/05/2009 09:04:00

I'm also happy because what Barca did gives us hope - we can play this beautiful passing football AND win too! Why not!
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28/05/2009 09:05:00

"Oh come on ND, Thierry must be considering a move to spurs to complete the set?" iceman10 - Is there really any other trophy a professional desires more? LOL
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28/05/2009 09:22:00

LD - I also believed that Henry was sold rather than moved on too, but read an interview with Arsene Wenger the other day where he said he did his best to convince Titi to stay ... and I see no reason for him to lie about it after all this time. Also I see Ronaldo is trying to pave his way to Spain by criticising Fergunson, and after recently telling Geoff Shreeves he would be a United player next season he now "doesn't know". What a ****ing baby.
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28/05/2009 09:35:00

It was obvious to me that Henry was playing with an injury yesterday. I dont know how much it matters that he has never scored in a final, much as it doesnt matter that messi had not scored in 10 previous meetings against english sides.
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28/05/2009 09:42:00

Agreed paul - I can't recall off the top of my head Denis Bergkamp ever scoring in a final (though I could be wrong).
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28/05/2009 09:50:00

I bet Henry (although never scoring in a final) has won more than he's lost! -Cue someone correcting me!
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28/05/2009 10:28:00

To tell you the truth now i realise why cesc cant get into the spanish first team. Iniesta is outstanding, he must run messi close to worlds best player, the only flaw is that he doesnt score enoug goals. Im happy Barca won thou as im all for english pride and that, but i hate manu fans. Their so arrogant thinking whichever team the face they will beat by a couple of goals.
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28/05/2009 10:45:00

I was so happy for Thierry Henry last night, and had a big grin on my face, when the final whistle was blown. As for the last few days, nearly all the media were talking as if Man utd had already won it!
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28/05/2009 12:03:00

Henry was an arsenal legend... But i'll never forget him wearing a pompey shirt. Hopefully, one day, he might wear one again...
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28/05/2009 12:06:00

I don't want to detract from Henry as a player or his deserved achivement last night, but if he went 11 games without scoring a goal, you'd ask questions. Not only has he not scored in a final but he's never played well in one either. Bergkamp never scored in a final but he was never a goalscorer.
Little Dutch
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28/05/2009 12:10:00

So happy for him, but also rueful that he had to have that medal lying on top of a Barca shirt. However, I no longer hate Barca. Guardiola and Laporta seem less arrogant than some former Barca managers, and I don't think they have been bullying clubs into sales, like they used to do and Real still do. Let's face it, they are almost perfect. Great stadium, great city, great fanbase, great culture, great team, beautiful football, players come through their academy. But to be honest, it's so good I think I'd find it a bit boring being a Barca fan. I like the struggle for perfection. (Not that Barca always had such easy times)
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28/05/2009 13:04:00

*Having said they don't bully clubs into sales, they do something similar inadvertantly just by being interested in a player, because everyone wants to play for them, and most can't resist, even if it's a place in the stands watching them (See Hleb).
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28/05/2009 13:09:00

LD: "The reason Henry has been sucha success at Barca this year is because he has accepted he is not the biggest fish in that pond, Messi is." -- Exactly, Henry's been an excellent presence in the dressing room, using his experience to help the younger players, lowering his expectations of his role in the team, becoming an excellent team player. "Even last season, Henry found that hard to cope with." -- Maybe, but his problems last season had much more to do with adjustment to the style of play, a new city, being played in a different position which took him time to feel comfortable with, and dealing with the conflicting egos in the dressing room. "Henry was anonymous." -- I cannot agree with this and think it's very harsh. Just because he didn't score doesn't make him "anonymous." Henry caused Utd problems and helped with Barca's attacks. This was Henry's first game since his injury, he hadn't played in weeks and he did not participate in training before the game. Given that, I was surprised he did as well as he did.
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28/05/2009 14:17:00

That is possibly an explanation for the way Henry played, but I've watched him play a lot of finals now and he's been pretty gash in every single one in truth. I just think a player of Henry's callibre over his whole career really should have gone to at least one big final and absolutely bossed it, a la Zidane in 2001, Kaka in 2007 or Deco in 2004. That said, he's won a World Cup, a European Championship, a European Cup, Three F.A. Cups, two Premierships, Ligue 1, La Liga, Copa del Reyes and only by a massive injustice has he not won the World Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004, so I suppose this really is just nit picking.
Little Dutch
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28/05/2009 15:30:00

"I just think a player of Henry's callibre over his whole career really should have gone to at least one big final and absolutely bossed it, a la Zidane in 2001, Kaka in 2007 or Deco in 2004." -- that's fair enuf, LD, and I do agree with you. I too have been sadly disappointed with Henry's failure in big finals. But I sometimes think this can be overstated, to the point where a player's entire career is reduced to these big finals (not saying you're doing that, but Henry constantly gets reduced to a "big game bottler" by so many pundits and rival fans, esp. Arsenal haters). It's a charge that totelly erases Henry's importance in games that allow these "big finals" to exist in the first place. Getting to the final of a competition is the result of a long campaign of excellent performances, it's a measure of a team's quality in and of itself. Henry was absolutely critical in getting us to the CL final, France to the wc 06 final, and was excellent throughout the Euro 2000 tournament. Henry was hugely important in getting Barca to the CL final this season (as well as the league title and Kings Cup final) and it's been telling how--whenever he's been taken off--Barca's effectiveness isn't quite the same.
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28/05/2009 15:49:00
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28/05/2009 16:27:00

Thing is had we won it in 2006, TH would have felt a lot prouder than yesterday. A medal is a medal. Well done to him. That must have been one of the main reasons for joining Barca. As for Hleb, what an idiot! Leave Arsenal to be a nobody at Barca? I'm puzzled.
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28/05/2009 20:15:00

Congrats Thierry. Is it me or do we play pretty much the same as Barca witthout the same quality/maturity/experience? Thought Yaya Toure was outstanding, am so gutted we didn't snap him up, he'd be great at Arsenal. Perhaps the difference is that Barca do have a shot now and again and Eto gives them that real thrust and power, whereas Ade tries doing Ronaldo stepovers. As for Ronaldo, it's so clear that he thinks he's bigger than Man Utd and am pretty confident he's not going to be at Man U next season.
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28/05/2009 23:10:00

Guardiola's a great manager but Barcelona is still Rijkaard's squad. GV, I thought Yaya Toure was very panicky in defence, although he is a very good defensive midfielder.
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29/05/2009 14:18:00

And yet, Guardiola achieved 3 trophies more than what Rijkaard did with the same squad. Thats the essence of being a good manager, and I dont see why that should devalue Pep's achievement in any form. Congratulations to Thierry, I was quite pleased that he won the trophy finally. Its been a while since he left, so its easier to take. I would have been less magnanimous if he had won it in the season immediately after he left us.
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29/05/2009 15:29:00

LD..."Bergkamp never scored in a final but he was never a goalscorer." ??......271 goals in top class football. Hollands 2nd all time international goalscorer.....37 in 79 games....103 goals in 185 games for Ajax....NEVER a goalscorer..??....
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29/05/2009 21:50:00

Also, was I the only one to notice that the Barca players did not really want to pass to Henry ? It seemed to me that many a time he was standing in acres of space but whoever was on the ball was content to run around in circles or doinf little triangles with other players. Personally I don't think he is happy there at all....he seemed very bitter when he was interviewed....
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29/05/2009 21:57:00

radarman perhaps a bit of mis-phrasing by LD, but what I think he meant, correct me if i'm wrong, is that scoring goals was not his primary purpose in the team.
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30/05/2009 01:04:00

at this stage ye be glad to any kind of trophy
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30/05/2009 17:37:00


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