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Player of the Noughties- 1st Place

In some ways, trying to build a sense of suspense when considering Arsenal`s Player of the Noughties was a fool`s errand. Really, the anticipation lay in who would be erected on the bronze and silver podia. Many will not agree with the omissions of undisputed club legends Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp. Had the timeframe in question been from 1995-2005, both would have featured in the top two (don`t ask me to commit to a running order!). However, Vieira left the club in 2005 and, in truth, he had really checked out in the summer of 2004, producing an incredibly ordinary season in 2004-05. Bergkamp was perhaps a little harder to leave out, having retired in 2006. Despite entering the millennium as a 31 year old, Bergkamp was still a major player for Arsenal until his retirement in 2006. However, a few too many of those years were spent as an impact substitute to warrant inclusion. (That sounds very frivolous I know, considering the impact he did make in that role, but this is a competitive list indeed and piffling criteria will always be a deciding factor).

I concede that the points above are up for debate. I don`t believe there is any debate about the player in pole position. Quite simply, whatever the criteria or timeframe, when constructing a list of Arsenal`s mesmerising and outstanding performers, Thierry Henry is always likely to be top of the charts. Henry would likely be the greatest Arsenal player of most decades- in fact the 1930s is possibly the only decade where there would be reasonable doubt. (Readers old enough to have seen Liam Brady play may be the only dissenting voices I feel). One of my greatest wishes in life is to live long enough to see the birth of the sort of technology that will allow sufficient genetic cloning to be able to construct a number of mutant super football teams- where the likes of Alex James, Liam Brady, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry in their prime could pit their wits against Best, Charlton, Ronaldo and Duncan Edwards in supreme physical condition. As it happens Henry`s peak is tailor made for the parameters of this era. Thierry arrived in the summer of 1999 as a promising young striker who had lost his way as a forlorn winger at Juventus. "He convinced himself he could not score goals," Arsene Wenger- the man who unearthed him at Monaco, remarked in hindsight. It took Thierry a couple of months to get out of the rut and into the groove in an Arsenal shirt, but with his typically self assured sense of timing, as the new millennium came beckoning, Henry began to start flying.

By the time January 2000 came around, Henry had dislodged Davor Suker and Nwankwo Kanu to become Dennis Bergkamp`s first choice strike partner. After a two goal salvo against Derby at Highbury in November 1999, Thierry simply never looked back, registering a goal every other game for the rest of his Arsenal days. His burst of form came too late to salvage our Champions League campaign, as Arsenal fizzled out in the group stages, but the UEFA Cup gave him a perfect canvas on which to weave his expressive brush strokes of genius. Henry scored in every round as Arsenal got to the UEFA Cup Final, chalking up goals home and away at Nantes, home and away against Werder Bremen and in the Semi Final away leg at R.C. Lens. (He had been suspended for the first leg after picking up the only red card of his Arsenal career in Bremen- a quite outrageously harsh decision by the match official). Unfortunately, Henry couldn`t stop Arsenal losing the Final to Galatasaray on a penalty shoot out. But that summer, he went to Italy as his country`s foremost striker, as France swept to Euro 2000 glory. Henry finished his first season in North London with 26 goals and 11 assists in 47 appearances and was voted into the UEFA Team of the Tournament for Euro 2000- a fine platform from which to build. That summer, Arsenal plundered that seminal French side, purchasing Sylvain Wiltord and Robert Pires to bolster the Gaelic contingent already evident with Henry, Vieira and Grimandi. The stage was set and with thespian precision, Henry was about to shuffle to centre stage.

By the beginning of the 2000-01 season, Henry`s confidence was such that not only did he assume the mantle of being Arsenal`s star turn- he positively demanded that responsibility- it was his oxygen. In Henry, we knew we had a great striker, but in October 2000 he would truly arrive with the first in a cavalcade of iconographic moments. In a tight home match with Manchester United, thirty one minutes into the match, Gilles Grimandi played a short free kick into Henry`s feet on the edge of the area with his back to goal, with Gary Neville in close attention Henry produced a moment of inspired improvisation- flicking the ball up before twisting and volleying it in one movement. Fabien Barthez was a helpless bystander as the ball sailed gracefully into the top corner. It would be the goal that won the game and an example of not only Henry`s outrageous technical ability- but the self confidence, arrogance even- to trust in that ability and execute the kind of goals that most footballers would not even have the intelligence to fantasise about. It was a goal for which you feel the invention of slow motion replays was wont. On an emotional day at Highbury in March 2001, on the day that David Rocastle died- Henry would score another picture book goal in a North London derby. It was a goal that was so typically Henry, with Spurs a goal down and pushing hard for an equaliser, Henry received the ball expectantly in the centre circle; he had only Chris Perry between him and the goal. Henry would again show that utter conviction when dawdling around the prone- back peddling centre half before slotting the ball into the net. The situation was dealt with with such insouciance. The body language of Henry, calm, assured, utterly convinced as were all spectators that he would beat his man with the minimum of fuss, was of such a stark contrast to that of Perry- cowered, unsure of what to do, as aware as the rest of us that he was simply being given a front row seat in the theatre that was Thierry Henry. He petrified defenders because they simply did not have the armoury to dispossess him. Get too close and his electric pace will carry him past you. Stand off and his outstanding skill will take him around you. Henry could run faster with a football at his feet than most Premiership footballers given a standing start sans ball.

Henry would finish the season in the PFA Team of the Year- a residence he held every year thereafter until 2007. He would score 22 goals in 53 appearances and win`s Player of the Season- an award he won a further five times. But team honours still eluded him. The Gunners would get to the 2001 Cup Final only to be beaten in the final seven minutes to Liverpool`s only two shots on target in the entire game. As Henry wiped away the tears at the final whistle, he erroneously revealed a tee shirt he had underneath his shirt bearing the legend- George 71, Henry 01. That he "accidentally" revealed the tee shirt despite unfortunately not getting the chance to air it in the circumstances he would have liked elucidates Henry`s sense of drama and poetry, he wanted to love and be loved and show a connection with his team and his supporters. With two consecutive Cup Final defeats behind him at his time at Arsenal thus far, the Gunners were being written off as England`s perennial bridesmaids, forced to look mournfully on as Ferguson tossed the bouquet year on year. But Arsenal were galvanised by their disappointments and determined to usurp United`s dominance. Thierry Henry was about to become the best striker on the planet.

Henry began his season in his own imitable style, scoring a superb control and volley to open the scoring at the Riverside, a game Arsenal would win 4-0. With the signing of Sol Campbell that summer, Arsenal had a steely backbone with Vieira marshalling the middle of the park and Henry, with the aid of arch providers Pires and Bergkamp, proving to be the jewel in the crown. Henry was adding further strings to his bow as he began to take on the mantle of team figurehead. He began taking penalties, corners and suddenly became incredibly prolific from free kicks. In his first two seasons, Henry`s free kicks were the butt of terrace jokes, but after scoring directly from a free kick for the first time ever in September 2001 in a 2-0 victory over Derby at Pride Park, Henry never looked back. It was a skill that did not initially come naturally to him, but one that he worked on and honed on the training ground. Henry had become a genuine match winner; it would be his goals in December 2001 that would claw Arsenal back from 2-1 down in a heart stopping, 3-2 injury time win against Aston Villa, his two goals from Fabien Barthez errors that would memorably defeat Manchester United at Highbury. Henry`s personality began to come to the fore; he was a cameraman`s dream. His sense of drama endemic, he had a vaudevillian air about him, his comically Gaelic shrug, his moon faced bouts of petulance, he was unmistakably, cartoonishly French. His goal celebration in a home match against Fulham, when Lauren`s header bounced off the post and hit him on the knee before unwittingly ricocheting into the net, he shrugged and laughed ironically into the camera. Or his frighteningly cool celebration for his second goal against Charlton at the Valley, having careered down the pitch at light speed to meet Sylvain Wiltord`s low cross for a tap in, he slid along the floor with the air of a man in his own front room. Or else the goading scowl at Middlesbrough fans who had tossed insults at him at Old Trafford in the F.A. Cup Semi Final. Henry found awards, both individual and team oriented, aplenty come May 2002. Arsenal won the Premiership and F.A. Cup; Henry won the Golden boot, appearing 47 times during the season, scoring amassing a total of 32 goals in 49 appearances. But with the injury to Robert Pires, Henry developed another side to his game. With a major creative pivot of the Arsenal side out with a cruciate ligament injury, Henry would have to shoulder the responsibility of being a provider as well as a scorer of goals. His trademark was to drift out to the left flank and become involved in the build up play to a move much earlier than a striker ordinarily would, in that sense, he redefined the role of the striker in England. His altruistic side was most famously exposed in the season`s final match at home to Everton, when he wilfully created several opportunities for Francis Jeffers to score a much wanted goal against his old club.

Despite an underwhelming World Cup- in which Henry was sent off in the opening match as France crashed out of the Group Stages without even scoring a goal, Henry`s astronomical standards would escalate further. Not satisfied with being the club`s top scorer, he began to relish the role of provider too. In the 2002-03 season, Henry registered 24 assists to compliment his tally of 32 goals- all this in 55 appearances. He was responsible in some manner for over half of our goals. No mean feat considering Arsenal still sported the likes of Ljungberg, Pires, Bergkamp and Wiltord in their considerable arsenal. During the season, it appeared every week was a picture book moment. He registered the 2—203 Goal of the Season and in some style too. In a home game against Tottenham, with the scores at 0-0, Henry shielded the ball away from Etherington on the edge of his own area. He sauntered forwards, gazelle like with the ball, the Spurs players unable to keep up with him even though they did not have the handicap of trying to keep a football under control as they sprinted, he moved forwards metronomically, running a total of sixty yards before curving the ball past Keller from the edge of the area. Illuminating his sense of pantomime again, he celebrated by surging back towards the Spurs fans, sliding on his knees before them. His first class Champions League hat trick in Rome that November proved to be another highlight. He also reached the landmark of 100 Arsenal goals one week after Dennis Bergkamp achieved the same milestone after scoring twice at St. Andrews in a 4-0 mauling of Birmingham. Henry was obsessed with statistics and was of course, fully aware that he had notched his 100th goal as he celebrated; his pride in his work all consuming. Thierry was simply on another plateau, playing to the beat of a different drum. He made the football pitch look like his back garden such was the ease in which he moved past players, the comfort apparent in his posture as he stroked home another winning goal or defence splitting pass. If all the world is truly a stage, then Henry was football`s answer to Charlie Chaplin- he wrote, produced, directed, wrote the score for and acted his own scripts. Arsenal fell agonisingly short in the title race that season, but did amass another F.A. Cup for the sideboard. Henry`s cabinet was swelled as he was voted PFA Players` Player of the Year and Football Writers` Player of the Year. Though van Nistelrooy pipped him to the Golden Boot by a solitary goal, the vote was unanimous as to the who the world`s greatest striker was. That season, Arsenal fans began singing the song, "We`ve got the best player in the world." We meant it too and there were few dissenting voices. This was no chant of one eyed adoration or cynical terrace irony, it was bordering on an assertion of concrete fact.

2003-04 would become Arsenal`s finest season ever and probably Henry`s too. Of course, the fact that Arsenal secured the title without so much as a solitary defeat is an achievement that bears repetition. That Henry won himself another Golden Boot, another PFA Players` Player of the Year Award and another Football Writers` Player of the Year award should not go without mention too. That he came 2nd in the running for the 2003 World Footballer of the Year and the 2003 European Footballer of the Year awards is an inscrutable tragedy and one that has rendered the awards completely meaningless to me ever since. Once again, Henry would set the picture book moments for Arsenal`s finest ever season. Who could forget his single handed dismantlement of Inter Milan`s defence as the Gunners soared to a 5-1 victory in the San Siro? Or his thirty yard screamer against United at Highbury? He provided one of the most imperious individual performances the top flight has witnessed in techni-colour when he notched four goals against Leeds at Highbury- his fourth goal perhaps the most memorable. As he once again sank his teeth into Leeds` weary defence, Gary Kelly, presumably tired of chasing Henry`s shadow, wearily clipped Henry`s heels as he bore down on goal, Henry stumbled but still managed to lift the ball over Blobinson as he fell to the ground. His individual genius would be responsible for one of the most seminal goals in the club`s history. Having been knocked out of the F.A. Cup by Manchester United and out of the Champions League by Chelsea within the space of four days, Arsenal trailed Liverpool at Highbury by two goals to one at half time. Henry teed up Pires for the equaliser before caressing the canvas with a brushstroke of genius. He picked up the ball in the centre circle, proceeded to slalom past four Liverpool players, leaving Jamie Carragher and Igor Biscan to collide comically as they limply gave chase, before calmly slotting the ball past Dudek. A moment of pure genius when we needed it most. Henry notched 39 goals and 14 assists in 51 appearances and became the first Arsenal player to register 30 league goals since Ronnie Rook in the 1940s. By now, Henry had become the complete footballer. Tall and lean, quick and strong, intelligence off the ball, poetry on it, a self confidence that allowed him to execute the outrageous, deadly from the spot or from a well placed free kick, power and guile. He had it all. At away grounds, when he would move to the corner of the pitch to take corners, opposing supporters would rise to their feet to applaud, Portsmouth supporters lasciviously sang to him, "We`re gonna sign Henry." We were truly the envy of the world.

Henry continued to set new standards in the English game and aided Arsenal to a record breaking 49 matches without defeat. His sense of theatre again apparent in the heart stopping 5-3 victory over Middlesbrough, when Pires`s tap in restored the scores to 3-3, the cameras followed Pires as he celebrated. Sat in the Clock End, we saw something the cameras didn`t pick up. Henry scooped the ball out of the net, and shouted at the Boro fans, "We`re not finished yet!" before slamming the ball on the centre spot and urging his team mates back from their celebrations. 33 seconds later, Arsenal were in the lead. Henry had a sense of drama and occasion in him, he understood the feelings of the supporters and tapped straight into their emotions, like a gladiator in some great Roman coliseum, standing over his prone opponent in some life or death milieu. Hnery retained the Golden Boot and the Golden Shoe in 2004-05- the first player to ever retain the Golden Shoe award. He scored 32 goals and provided 17 assists in 42 appearances, registering Goal of the Season contenders against Crystal Palace and Norwich City. He was again an F.A. Cup winner though he was injured for the serendipitous penalty shoot out win in the final against Manchester United. The next season was dominated by transfer speculation as Henry refused to commit any word on his future until the end of the 2005-06 season when there would be one year left on his contract, coinciding with his 29th birthday. Despite the infuriating speculation, Henry still provided us with magic. With the departure of his friend and captain Patrick Vieira in the summer of 2005, Henry was appointed club captain. The move was a bad one, designed to tug on the sentimental Parisian`s heartstrings, he had been allowed to become too important to the club, expected to be a constant one man show, the shadow of his brilliance shading a young nand emerging team. It wasn`t all entirely his fault. He did play a prominent part in Arsenal`s run to the 2006 Champions League Final, his most memorable contribution the brilliant solo goal that slayed the might of Real Madrid in the Bernabeu. Though the young side matched and outstripped Madrid, they needed a moment of magic to catapult them above the parapet. Henry was always the man to provide that moment of brilliance. He also came off the bench to score a vital equaliser against Spurs in April as the two North London rivals went nose to nose for the coveted 4th place. As he celebrated another epoch making masterpiece, he bellowed, "It`s not over yet!" in defiance. In October 2005, Henry came off the bench in Praha and scored twice, breaking Arsenal`s all time goal scoring record.

Henry would skipper his side in their first ever European Cup Final, but alas, heart break was afoot and Henry could not become the first Arsenal player ever to lift the trophy- a moment that his brilliance as an Arsenal player would have deserved. He raged at the final whistle that Barcelona players were "Rolling around like women." He signed a new contract two days after that ill fated final, in his trademark poetry he gushed at the press conference about "The club I love." But 2005-06 did provide a moment that will forever be remembered as the iconographic moment of his career. Henry was always forthcoming about his sentimental attachment to Highbury, "my garden" as he lovingly described it in his clipped French tones. With Arsenal needing to better Spurs` result at Upton Park, Henry put the grand seal on the famous old ground. Whilst Spurs were filling their undercrackers, Henry scored a remarkable hat trick to defeat Wigan 4-2. Highbury`s most prolific ever goalscorer scored the last goal in front of the Clock End and the final goal inf ront of the North Bank. As he swept home a second half penalty, sealing his hat trick, he dropped to his knees and kissed the hallowed turf. After the match he sat in the centre circle for over half an hour as the other players disappeared to the changing rooms. Henry was bading a fond and public farewell to the ground he and we loved. As ever, his celebration was an iconic and public appreciation of the moment and it`s artistic substance. He had the sense of occasion of a rock n roll front man. On occasion, he was all Mick Jagger`s elastic hips and performative facial expressions, at others he had a deep, brooding, doe eyed scowl of a Liam Gallagher, peering out moodily on his adoring public.

Henry`s last season at Arsenal was unremarkable by his standards, enervated by a troubling sciatic injury. The team was being handed over ceremoniously to the impudent young Fabregas, Henry`s on pitch moods became increasingly belligerent. Second fiddle simply would not do. Wenger and Henry argued bitterly on the training ground in early December when Wenger instructed his captain to take some time off. It was then the manager realised that the relationship would have to end for Arsenal`s young team to grow. Henry had been allowed to become bigger than the club and our progress as a team would be interrupted with the looming spectre of Henry in the side. His last game was a most unbecoming one for a man of his legend as he hobbled off injured in a gut wrenching Champions League loss to PSV Eindhoven. His Arsenal career was ending as inauspciously as it had started. In the summer of 2007, Henry bade a tearful farewell as he departed for Barcelona, where he continues to collect the game`s greatest honours and forms part of a devastating attacking triumvirate that has literally swept all before it. In the summer of 2008, in an online poll conducted by, Thierry Henry was voted Arsenal`s greatest ever player.

It is difficult to put into words what a great, great player Henry was. But my Grandchildren will bear my many attempts to verbalise it. In a void of sufficient superlatives, let us look at the figures and decorations.

PFA Players Player of the Year: 2002-03, 2003-04
Football Writers Player of the Year: 2002-03, 2003-04, 2005-06
European Golden Shoe: 2003-04, 2004-05
Golden Boot Winner: 2001-02, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06
PFA Team of the Year: 2000-01, 2001-02, 2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06
UEFA Team of the Year: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006
French Player of the Year: 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
Premiership Winner: 2001-02, 2003-04
F.A.C up Winner: 2002, 2003, 2005

Henry was a once in a lifetime sort of player, ruthlessly consistent. On one hand, an moody artiste, an individual, a non conformist who wanted nothing more than to be accepted by the masses. Henry was the moody loner that prided himself on transporting spectators away from the humdrum of their everyday existences. The legerdmains of his now you see it now you don`t flick against Middlesbrough which drew gasps of admiration from the awed crowd. He was part artiste extradonaire, part thespian, almost belonging to the music hall tradition with his array of shrugs and pouts, the dramatic irony of a glare into a camera. Remember that goal celebration against Wigan? Having been told to wait to take his free kick by referee Graham Poll he nonchalantly curled the ball into the net before staring at Poll with dramatic precision and implored, "Is that enough?" Henry, like a great Roman gladiator, relied and thrived upon the adoration of the crowd, he tugged upon our heartstrings like a great concerto and was sustained by the love that radiated back to him. Henry was like a great painter, Highbury was his canvas and he was the blackboard upon which Arsene Wenger etched the basis of his most successful ever side upon his manifold talents. In the words of fellow club legend Tony Adams, "Thierry, bon faire mon frere."LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday December 29 2009

Time: 7:29PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Fantastic article....brings back memories of 'the King of Highbury'
gun 'em down
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29/12/2009 19:51:00

He is it.
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29/12/2009 19:52:00

What a shock
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29/12/2009 19:58:00

The length of the article says it all. No arguments on that one. Lol, Sajit.
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29/12/2009 20:07:00

long, long, article but a great read and a worthy choice I'd say!
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29/12/2009 21:12:00

Tim, I will simply be bookmarking this page for my grand kids.
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29/12/2009 21:50:00

You can change the title of the article to Player of Arsenal's History and I don't think anyone could argue. Quite simply the greatest player ever to play for Arsenal, and quite possibly the greatest player the Premiership has ever, and will ever see. It was a honour to see him play in the flesh, and every time I saw him it was a struggle to take your eyes from him as you knew you were in the presence of a true footballing legend.
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29/12/2009 22:10:00

I just donned my cosiest new dressing down and brewed up a hot mug of Joe and sat down to fully read that article, and I have to say, that if VA is Arsenal Football Club, then Tim Stillman is Thierry Henry. That was the single most superb article I've ever read, and most definately befitting the great man himself. Awesome work Tim.
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29/12/2009 22:37:00

Only Ronalso could claim to be above Thierry in Premier League history.
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29/12/2009 22:47:00

100% agree with the decision! Well in Titi!
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29/12/2009 23:10:00

Laughing at your own jokes Dimmy Jim c.o.c.k? Whilst your here who was the spuds player of the decade, last time I checked mauriccio Tarrico was in the best 11. Thierry simply had it all, will we ever see a 6ft + front man with such grace, balance and pace again?
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29/12/2009 23:21:00

Great stuff LD... hard to believe all this was practically yesterday... maybe its because of the nostalgia but it feels like a lifetime ago. If there's ever an article that had me scurrying for my Arse DVDs, this is it!
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29/12/2009 23:25:00

Fantastic stuff. A tribute fit for king Henry himself. Bravo.
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29/12/2009 23:54:00

What jokes would they be then iceman10?
jinkin jimmy dimmock
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30/12/2009 00:16:00

No way Tom. Ronaldo doesn't come close to Henry in terms of being the most complete player in PL history. Ronaldo did have the single most impressive season when he scored 42 goals, but Henry was far more consitent .... and he was as much of an arse either.
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30/12/2009 00:39:00

He also fluffed his lines at the crucial moment in that European cup final you mentioned, missing a crucial one on one when destiny beckoned, effectively losing Arsenal the cup after Judas' goal. He then signed for the team he insulted. Mind you, you can't accuse Henry of not learning from his mistakes. Faced with a similar situation again playing for France, he handballed it in to make sure....(not a single word of biased opinion, but absolute cast iron facts)
jinkin jimmy dimmock
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30/12/2009 00:56:00

Oh Jimmy, are you still upset because Henry always takes the p*ss out of Spurs? Poor little spuddy.
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30/12/2009 01:01:00

Couldn't agree more with Rocky on why Henry > Ronaldo
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30/12/2009 01:19:00

Tom14 !! Wash your mouth out. Ronaldo had 1 very good season, but Ronaldo is a diving, crying little bitch who needs to be shot aswell as not knowing how to be loyal to a club. Ronaldo never cared about ManU, he cared about himself and winning things and looking good. Henry loved Arsenal and still does to this day!
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30/12/2009 02:54:00

and! lord that was one hell of an article. Did i got massive goose bumps towards the end. I'm feeling strangely nostalgic and all i wanna do is watch Arsenal ...
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30/12/2009 03:19:00

Tim, that was a quite brilliant piece. Thierry Henry epitomises every quality of the Premier League - although the media wouldn't agree, because he's foreign. He was the heroic protagonist of the drama he created. Professionalism is a word which can be used in praise, but Thierry recognized and embraced football as more than a profession, but as an art and an arena in which different ideals can be pitted against one another, a realisation no doubt drawn from Arsene's philosophy. Simply put, it is players like him which make being a fan worth it. His growth from unexeptional, often bemused winger into self-assured world-beater was inspirational, his willing understanding and genuine love of our club was endearing, the dramatic tension he created ranged from adrenaline-filled to nail-biting to every other kind of emotive evocation, the skill he showed was breath-taking and the inconspicuous nature of his demise was tragic - a great King struggling to accept the passing of his reign. "he wrote, produced, directed, wrote the score for and acted his own scripts". In terms of the nuances of his legacy - his performances on the pitch - yes. But although he was the main actor in this production, and as I sit here singing the praises of the best player I've ever had the privilege to watch, I can not help but think to myself: "Thank **** for the writer, caster and director of the whole production - Arsene Wenger." All that time, he must have been sitting in that director's chair of his, knowing that without his help, the world's best player may have drifted into mediocrity, before removing his proud smile, going to his press conference and lavishing praise upon the star he allowed to shine. He will deny it, but the debt we owe Arsene is huge, and Thiery Henry just sums up all the reasons why the idea that some Arsenal 'fans' want Wenger to leave just makes me sick. Henry will rightly forever be the King of Arsenal as we currently know it, but, quite frankly, Arsene has to be its God.
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30/12/2009 03:41:00

I agree completely with Rocky - Ronaldo doesn't come close. Not only because of his lack of consistent brilliance, but, perhaps more importantly, because he had nowhere near the same level of understanding about the cause for which he was fighting. Staying with the drama motif, watching Ronaldo was like watching a romcom - cheap laughs (his unnecessary stepovers for a prime example), and with some thrills included but with only the odd shallow show of emotive action or real attatchment to his club. Henry had more substance to him. Watching him was truely like watching an epic. His swagger drew you in, and he seemed not only to be fighting for his team but for a greater good, a feeling that still hasn't been dislodged from Arsenal fans, often accused of coming across as self-righteous, but that was all defined in Henry. His performance brought a whole new level of meaning to the production, not just a skillful piece of character work. Anyway, I'm getting bogged down in nostalgia now. Enough acting analogies. I'm off to bed.
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30/12/2009 04:06:00

PS: Sorry for the rather bizzare lecture.
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30/12/2009 04:07:00

Ronaldo was better in that one season than any other player in premier League history. His final three years at United were as good as Henry's finest.
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30/12/2009 08:07:00

But I do go along with Henry being a superior player. He is the best player even in my opinion. Pele juist doesn't do it for me.
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30/12/2009 08:15:00

Beautiful article and a fine, fitting tribute to quite simply the greatest, most elegant and intelligent player I have ever witnessed play football TO THIS DAY. Henry scored goals in ways that the Portugese could never have conceived of and looking at the club and international medal and award haul of the 2 players, Henry's is the most complete (barring the OUTRAGEOUS ommission of a World Player of the Year Award. Furthermore, with the exception of bitter spuddies', Henry had the respect and admiration of all away grounds while Ronaldo was universally pilloried for his diving and show-pony antics. One player had one fine season, the other was consistently fabulous across 6 years. Sorry Tom, but Ronaldo will always be boot-boy to Henry in the history of this league. Still my hero.
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30/12/2009 09:37:00

Ronaldo had one remarkable PL season, 2 very good ones, and 3 rather ordinary ones. Henry was never less than superb other than in his last injury afflicted season. Even then his scoring rate was much the same as Ronaldo's last season. Factor in that Henry created a goal for someone else for every 2 goals he scored himself and you begin to appreciate the Andy Gray commentary to the 4 goal Leeds game Tim covers in the article above "I've watched football for twenty years. I've never seen anything like him!"
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30/12/2009 10:41:00

I agree, I merely stated that Ronaldo is the closest to him. And you cannot deny his effectiveness on a football field.
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30/12/2009 11:15:00

Apart from his sheer ability and goalscoring and goal making feats, the thing that stands out about him is his genuine affection for the Club. Endearingly, he seemed to have a love affair with all things Arsenal, even more than some of our British players perhaps. I was watching the highlights of the Arsenal-Villa game from 2006 when we won 5-0 at Highbury. He scored two and reminded you of just what a class player we had on our hands. Perhaps we could sign him on loan for the rest of the season?
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30/12/2009 13:51:00

best player i have ever seen - by far!
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30/12/2009 13:57:00

It could have only been Thierry, What a Player, so happy he played for us!
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30/12/2009 14:34:00

still haven't forgiven yu for calling him a liar and all those things yu said about him when he left, but i dun think i'll ever read a better tribute to Thierry Henry than this in my lifetime. saving this one for all my family generations. and yu my friend ur a talent just like him with the pen. hope yu make it really big as well with this..
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30/12/2009 18:17:00

Between 2001 and 2004 he was the best player ive ever seen in the flesh, id say only Ronaldinho in his absolute prime at Barcelona could match him this decade and possibly Cristiano Ronaldo and you sense the only reason they won more individual accolades was because they played for the biggest teams in the world. Amazing player who scared the crap outta me everytime we played you.
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31/12/2009 01:31:00

I'll like to thank you for a very good article.
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31/12/2009 07:32:00

*Doffs hat to King Henry and to Tim for this memorable tribute*
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31/12/2009 10:21:00

You might like this article it says it all:
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31/12/2009 15:07:00

My favourite henry moment that embodies the supreme confidence this man had at his peak was his goal against chelsea at highbury in the 04-05 season. It was a very tight game and chelsea were very committed under mourinho but in the opening seconds cesc played a long up ball to the target man (yes henry) he headed ball to reyes who swiftly headed ball back to him what ensued was pure henry genius. With four (yes four) chelsea players rushing to the ball realising who was in possession of it, henry controlled the ball with his back to goal, turned and volleyed the ball with his left foot across cech who could only watch as the ball flew past him into the net all in the space of a second. Earlier this season wenger said that van persie was a mixture of bergkamp and henry, you can see why because it seems none of them ever score easy goals I believe henry was really unlucky with the world player awards... how he didn't win against zidane boggles my mind but he also came up against a ronaldinho who seemed at the time to be one of the best footballers of all time.
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01/01/2010 21:28:00

A very impressive write -up. Like many others, I can never really understand how he never "won" a FIFA World Player award.
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02/01/2010 10:16:00

The Premiership hasn't been the same without Thierry Henry. A phenomenal talent.
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02/01/2010 13:11:00


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