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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Henry Doesn't Want To Play Against Arsenal

Thierry Henry is arguably the greatest player ever to wear the famous cannon on his chest, the Frenchman bleeds red and white. So when that painful day that he left finally came, we always knew that the footballing gods would make it so that one day we'd be playing against him and his new team. It always happens doesn't it?

However after Henry latest statement regarding the Champions League quarter final match between Arsenal and Barcelona, I'm not entirely sure that the talisman will be picked as he seems decidedly against taking to the field against the team he still refers to as 'we'.

"I do not want to play against Arsenal, simple as that. Forget about it. No, I`m not saying I won`t try to fight or whatever because that`s the way the game is," said Henry.

"But I don`t want to play against Arsenal. It will be weird for me to step on the pitch, even if it`s at the Emirates and not Highbury, with another shirt on. The bond that I have with the Arsenal fans I will never get anywhere else because I don`t think I will ever play for another team for that long.'

"Eight years - I don`t think I will be with another team for eight years."

Some might claim that Henry is just attempting to duck out of a difficult game to play in, but if he feels the same way about Arsenal as we still feel about him, I don't blame Henry for not being up for it.

Maybe having won his own Champions League medal last season he'd prefer the Arsenal to get their hands on old big ears instead?

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The Journalist

Writer: Rocky7 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday March 23 2010

Time: 6:29PM

Your Comments

Anyone else think TH likes his 'nice guy' image a bit too much?
Little Dutch
I bet the Barca fans are overjoyed at hearing that, sounds like a massive cop out to me.........either that or he is hoping for a testimonial at the library
Not for me. I just believe he is a true Arsenal fan. Footballers can love teams and the game just as much as the fans. Say Arsenal ceased to be, could any of us support another team with any real enthusiasm? Plus Henry is risking the wrath of the Barca fans with these statements about not wanting to play and calling Arsenal "we".
Thierry strikes me as a nice enough guy, but I've always felt he lays it on a bit thick because he wants to be loved so much. Like when he asked for the France v Eire game to be replayed about half an hour after uefa confirmed they wouldn't do that. Or the 2002 Cup Final when he absolutely stunk the place out, to the point that he was subbed (Henry was NEVER subbed) and when the fans gave himmuted applause for such a half arsed performance, he turned around and started kissing the badge and hamming it up to get a standing ovation. The guy loves to be loved, nowt wrong with that, but sometimes it's all a bit much.
Little Dutch
Yes Henry can lay it on little thick at time but I find it easy to forgive him. I think he's being genuine here, esp. since he's been saying stuff like this ever since he arrived at Barca knowing that he's risking generating resentment from his new club and new supporters.
He may very well be, but why state it so publicly? He knows full well he'll get an ovation at the Grove and everyone will still love him without him thoroughly *****ing off his current paymasters and supporters. If he really feels he can't play, just a quiet word with the manager would have sufficed. He knows this will lead to even greater swooning when he does arrive. The man's a pro, listen, I'll be glad to see him backand will applaud him warmly, but you know what? When that whistle goes he's just another Barca chump to me. If I can think like that, I'm sure a pro like Henry can manage it.
Little Dutch
With all the hype surrounding the game it's inevitable that Henry is going to be asked about facing his old club, and as is the same with Arsene Wenger, I think Henry is just answering the question as honestly as he can, whether the answer *****ies some people off or not.
I realise that, but that's kind of what I'm saying, there really isn't much need to lay it on this thick. Just say, "It'll be emotional but I've got a job to do." Put it this way, if we were playing Ajax and Vermaelen told the press he didn't want to play, my response would be, "Either give your wages back or ***** off."
Little Dutch
I meant to add, the crux here is that I don't really believe him. I struggle with the concept that a footballer who has reahced the immense heights of sporting excellence would really find it that difficult. Sure it'd be emotional pre match, but when that whistle goes professionals of this standard wouldn't have any problems blocking it out. I just doubt Henry got to the levels he did as a professional by being such a wimp.
Little Dutch
One of the reasons Pires got such a sincere and genuinely warm ovation at the Emirates last season is that the supporters wanted him to know how much they had valued him - perhaps thinking he may not have been aware of it. TH seems to be fully aware of his rightful place in our history though seems overly concerned that it is in the past - but you can't blame him for playing to the audience and no matter what he wins at Barca he will never win there the hearts and minds he won here.
Given that Th 14 is smart enough to know what the reaction to this statement from the Barca fans will be, that he says all that he does anyway is a really rare thing for a footballer to do. In a world full of professional footballers who view clubs as employers atleast some like TH seem to view a club as their own.
I'm sure he can ... and will if picked ... play against us to the best of his ability. Saying he doesn't want to doing it is different (obviously) to not doing it. I do things I don't want to do everyday, but I still do them because I have to. He hasn't said that he won't, just that he doesn't want to, which to me is very understandable.
But it didn't need to be said did it? It's just an image preserving thing and to be honest, I don't buy it anyway. He knows full well it won't be difficult when the whistle blows and the game begins, this is just an attempt to ham things up. If this were Vital Barcelona, we'd all be livid.
Little Dutch
If I was a Barcelona supporter, I'd be *****ed. But I'm not, so I love genuineness of his comments.
He was asked about it, and he gave an honest answer. He could have given the token "It will be emotional" answer, but why should he? If he doesn't want to play then isn't it his right to say so? Thierry is a smart bloke, as well as knowing full well that Barca fans wouldn't be happy with the statement, he was probably well aware that some people would also claim that he was laying it on thick for appearances sake .... but he said it anyway.
There are far bigger and more popular stars at Barca. I doubt that he feels upsetting them will ever lower his stock greatly there. His is a sideshow for them. If he is looking for adulation he knows he won't find it there.
LD, you are being well harsh on Thierry. I would rather hear him laying it on thick for the benefit of Arsenal fans, than to the yapping of of other ex-players who seem to like taking pot-shots at us. Thierry has never made one comment about AFC, that was not supportive since he left. I don't doubt for a minute that he meant every word of it. Why shouldn't he feel that way? When he was here he was King Henry, he had the adulation of all Gooners and the aplause of even the away supporters. I don't give a fig for Barca fans or what they might think. They acquired him as a luxury player, just because they coveted him. And if I had a Barca fan in front of me, I'd tell him- you might be his employer, but he will always be OUR Henry.
If Messi scores against us, that's one thing. But if Thierry does, it'll rip my heart out. He'll never be just a chump to me.
I agree with all of you. I agree with you LD in that it was unneccessary, attention-seeking and unprofessional, but as you also alluded to, it was acting - and that's why it has got to the level he has, it's not being a 'wimp', it's playing to the croud. It was this very quality that you refered to in your rather brilliant tribute to TH a few months ago. He's MORE than a good professional, he's an excellent entertainer. He loves to be loved and feel like he belongs here - that is genuine, sometimes though he just puts on a superficial image to achieve that love. He could've shut up and had a word with Guardiola, and it is very arguable that he should have done, but it's nice to see a footballer able to break the conventions of publicity once in a while. Personally, I agree with you in that he shouldn't have said it so explicitly - perhaps replace the "I don't want to play against Arsenal" to "I'll find it difficult to play against Arsenal" and then give Guardiola the word, but I find the general argument of professionalism over entertainment in media somewhat flawed.
julie, with 10 goals in his last 4 games, if Messi doesn't score against us it will be a miracle.
I don't doubt you're right Amos, though they won't be happy about it. This is what I mean, he knows where the adulation is and that's what he's shooting for, a bit of adolescent swooning. Rocky, that's what I'm saying, I don't believe him, I don't think for one minute it will be difficult for him once that whistle blows. Vieira was here for 9 years, but when he came back it was just business for him. I don't think 99% of Arsenal fans would say he was laying it on thick, I think if most are honest with themselves, they'll think it deep down but not dare say it. Me? My bull*****-o-meter is going doolalley. I've no doubts whatsoever he still harbours great feeling for the club, but the amateur dramatics are a bit transparent are they not?
This has always been part of Henry's make up. Like I say, he loves to be loved and that's absolutely fine, but he always had a tendency to be ott with it. In hislast two seasons, witness his half arsed performances in front of small sections of Arsenal fans at away matches compared to how he played to a capacity Highbury crowd. I saw this comment and thought, "hmmmm, bit unnecessarily OTT there Thierry, but then I'm not surprised." I'm not lashing out at the bloke by any means, I realise a lot of Arsenal fans put him on a pedastal and I've always found it tricky ground to say anything that suggested Henry's turds didn't smell of rose petals. But he's clearly being a bit try hard here isn't he? Don't tell me you honestly can't see that in your objective heart of hearts?
Little Dutch
Does this guy still wanna play for the rest of the season?! He's been snubbed in recent weeks & now that he's in the mould,he's saying no? Most players would want to play against they're old teams.Barca fans will want his head.He probably even wants you to win the cl ahead of barca.
I can't believe I've just read that. After all the slagging he's had these past few months, if the one place he doesn't have any credit left is Arsenal, then where is it? Hasn't he brought his own daughter along to watch Arsenal, who cheered when we scored. Clearly an Arsenal fan. For just ONCE, can't the cynics in this country just credit someone with a genuine emotion. If you can't see the hurt in seeing Thierry Henry playing AGAINST Arsenal, the club that made him, then there's not much else I can say.
And I remember when Barca won the CL last year, he was interviews pitch-side by Sky Sports, with the medal round his neck. The interviewer asked how it felt after the disappointment of 2006, now he had a winners medal. He clearly stated that he wished it had been for Arsenal. Barca can choke on that IMO, because he was only ever a bauble to them, a player to have, just because they could.
Henry is an Arsenal legend. I think he should be respected and cheered when introduced, either at the beginning or when he comes on as a sub, and then roundly booed every time he touches the ball. He used to be one of us but now he's not, and if cheers turning to boos throw him off his game, so be it if it gives us an edge that translates into a win. Of course, if he plays for Barca like he did for us against Barca in 2006, we have nothing to worry about.
When Adepaymore screemed abuses at the fans, they said he has a demon, when he put on arsenal shirt he is mad, (I believed the demon part) Now in contrast Henry said a beautiful thing about the arsenal, & fans who are not even sober are talking? blah all the way to sleep tomorrow hopefully u'll say something nice
Blunt G
To me his words say, "I don't care who I upset, I've got what I came here for and I've made the decision I'm moving to the states in the summer for a last lucrative hurrah", he knows how badly Wenger and all of us want that big eared mug (no not Linekar) and wants no part in denying us it. Of course he's a show off and a vain fu**er but unlike 99% of footballers he's got every reason to be, he's won it all and done it with as much va va feckin voom as any human being will ever muster.
I don't care if booing Henry would win us the first leg, there's no fuggin way I would boo the bloke, it's utter bollix sorry! when Beckham got cheered to the rafters then booed when he played then cheered again afterwards, it's just shh1te, games turned panto enough as it is, let's just keep it to shouting "It's behind you!" at Paul Robinson.
TH will always be one of very few legends in my mind. I take his word to heart and believe them 100%.
Julie, you've kind of proved my point for me insofar as I haven't criticised him per se. I'm just saying it's typical for him to lay it on a bit thick and try and get a bit of adulation. All I'm saying is that I've never been particularly taken by that part of Henry's character and I said it when he was with us. In fact, there were times when I felt he played some outright cheap tricks (though not often). Really,when you take the goggles of adulation and unadulterated hero worship off, you'll see that what I'm saying is neither offensive nor controversial. The response of most here has been, "Yeah, I see what you're saying, but he's got every right to be and isn't he brilliant at this, that and the other" which is a refusal to confront the very uncontroversial point I'm making by glossing it over. It's not at all wrong that we should feel the guy is a club legend and possibly the greatest player ever to pull on an Arsenal shirt, but it doesn't mean we're not allowed to recognise his minor flaws as a human being. This isn't mainstream religion, nobody's going to stone you to death or condemn you to hell for having your own mind.
Little Dutch
LD I'll rather be sentimental and have that good feeling about the likes of Henry and Bergkamp than Adepaymore because in all honesty they have paid their dues. If Henry says he does not want to play against Arsenal please believe it as what it is, not some PR for the fans. In any case we like him which ever way. I still go back into the archives and relish some old games that bring back smiles to my face. I still marvel at some of our goals. TH vs Manure and Bergkamp 3rd vs Newcastle
Lets just say , we should be happy we arent Barca fans.
LD - Henry's comment is backed by every word he's spoken since he left Arsenal. He's clearly an Arsenal fan, his heart is at Arsenal, he refer's to Arsenal as 'We' ...I personally wouldn't enjoy being part of a team playing AGAINST Arsenal in the CL, once you've got love for a club the way we love Arsenal no other team can compare to that. Of course he didn't HAVE to say it out loud, and yes he is a show man and he was asked the question by the media so why shouldn't he answer honestly? I believe every word he said, deep down i do because he has no reason to lie.
I'm not seeing the problem as someone mentioned earlier as an ex Arsenal player he's going to be asked questions. He said what any honest man would. If I was a professional football player and I left Arsenal I would say the same thing. I don't see why I would offend the Barcelona players either, he's not saying he won't go out there and do his job just that it creates some inner turmoil.
Gunners,17033,8746_6046521,00.html - I know LD's read this, but it's a very intersting article. Someone actually PRAISING Wenger :P
Who you guys kidding..He wants to score as many goals against you as possible..He is just saying what needs to be heard by his ex club that made his career...but behind closed doors he his telling the Barca squad that he wants a hatrick atleast...
Daz Hotspurs
Does anybody remember the champions league final when the disrespectful Barca fans were chanting Henry's name? Or when that retard ran onto the pitch and gave Henry that shirt? I will always love Henry and the fact that he is upsetting those SOB's because of what he said makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I hope he plays at the Grove so he can get the heros welcome he deserves!
Henry to score the winning goal that kicks Arsenal out of the CL..Mark my words,its gonna be a fairytale story with no happy ending for you guys..
Daz Hotspurs
Henry to score the winning goal that kicks Arsenal out of the CL..Mark my words,its gonna be a fairytale story with no happy ending for you guys..
Daz Hotspurs
Why are we fans of football players? Because of their exalted characters and flawless personalities? Not me! I think Henry was/is a great player, and he was a brilliant player for Arsenal for years, and that's the reason he's a star. Football players aren't my friends or family, they're not role models, they're just very good at playing football. And the better they do that, the more we respect them. It's what happens on the pitch that matters. So maybe he's vain, but to me that's doesn't change my view of him. Arsene is an exception here, the guy is a brilliant mind and an inspiration for life.
Oh, one other thing: Apparently Arshavin told the Sun we need more "real" stars to win something. WTF? On the official site there's an article in which he praises Bendtner, so I wonder if that is just *****-stirring by the media. Or Arshavin needs to have his head checked
Making a comparison with Adebayor is a little far fetched to make a point! There really isn't a need to go to that extreme! :-) But if we're talking about Adebayor, I don't remember us swooning too much when he compared A.C. Milan to Beyonce. As I have said, I don't doubt he has great feeling towards the club, but I just don't believe he'd find it difficult to play us once the whistle goes. The man's a pro, it won't be hard for him any more than he found it difficult to play against Campbell and Cole in Euro 2004, or any harder than he found it to routinely humiliate his good friend Barthez.
Little Dutch
Well said LD. afri-gooner, I'm sorry man but it's the players on the pitch that bring the emotion. We live and die with them. We praise them and condem them. We get excited when we sign a real talent and moody when we see them leave. Yes, the club is always number 1, but why should we forget them once they move on? Why should we not look at Henry and remember him for all he did for this club and in the wake of players like Cole and Adebayor, why should we not feel proud because of the way he speaks about this club? He is a legend!
Dazspuds you are a mug. He tortured your lot often enough and he bloody LOVED that. Yes he may score against us. LD is right about this- TH will be ultra professional when he steps on the pitch and try his best to help his employer win. But make no mistake, it would hurt him deep inside to do it. That's right we're playing Barca in the Big Boy's League next Wednesday, proper rivals. What are you doing tonight-oh yeah, playing against Fulham in the FA Cup. Enjoy that :)
You're right LD, no-one is going to get stoned to death for speaking their own mind, and in my mind I don't believe he's over playing it for the crowd. I don't think he's trying to garner love from the Arsenal fans, he's trying to tell us that as well as us loving him, he loves us too. And in times when footballers seem to get more self centred by the day, it's something I greatly appreciate from Henry.
Trennon, I agree with you. But it's all about their talent as football players and their performances, not about them as human beings. We never really know them. Obviously you get the real turds who give you reason not to like them from a human perspective, and once in a while there's a true gentleman. I guess I don't really agree with myself, outright treachoury does get to me whether I want to admit it or not. I just wanted to say that TH's character flaws don't diminish his legend, it's his performances that count
Oh and another thing Dazspuds, what about Jamie O'Hara, an ON LOAN spuddie player, coming out and saying that he hopes you lot get knocked out of the FA Cup, eh? Give me Thierry and his "love letters" to Arsenal any day of the week.
THats right julie,playing in the big boys league where the small boys wont win a trophy yet again..
Daz Hotspurs
Atleat JOH is being honest...No hard feelings there..the boy just wants to play,where he will be back at Spurs next season
Daz Hotspurs
You really are a muppet. We make the Champions League for the past 12 year-in, year-out, regularly make the final stages and were runners-up in 2006. You lot would wet yourselves in you could make 4th spot just once. And you won't this year either.
O'Hara back next season? Oh, you don't say! I'm sure we're all quaking in our boots. Ha, ha.
I personally don't give two hoots about this, I love it when former players speak passionately and fondly about us (take note Wrighty!) Just think about it this guy was without a doubt in my mind the best player in the world when he played with us and he loves us - besides if it *****es of barca then that's a bonus :-)
ha ha crack me up lil one...Cant wait til you get to the Lane...Its been a while since we have had a good rivalry game...and guess what..Henry is my all time player..Rated him the best in my years of watching..So just loving the fact he is a Barca player now..
Daz Hotspurs
but it doesn't mean we're not allowed to recognise his minor flaws as a human being. Little Dutch - Do you often if ever pick up on the MINOR flaws of all ex Arsenal players? It does seem you have a real bee in your bonnet about Henry which is your perogative, I just haven't seen you highlight comparable if disimilar behaviour in other players even if it is obvious/prevalent.
Probably not no LG, but then most ex players don't talk quite as much as Henry does! I like to think I'd be even handed about any Arsenal player, current or former. I don't particularly have anything against Henry, like I said, it tends to come across that way because the tiniest piece of micro criticism towards him is treated as heresy, picked upon and gnawed at. My only point here is that I don't really believe it's as much of a deal as he says it is.
Little Dutch
burn the witch
I mean eloquent last words and all LD, nobly put. Now approach the stake quietly if you will son.
LD, we have many ex-Arsenal players who talk much more than Henry does, yet we never had you slate anyone (save Ade....) so persistently, in one thread, as you have Henry; and why? For expressing an emotional side. I don't make much of Henry's statement but do not doubt that if his employers were to pick him for the games against us, he will accept his pre-match show of adulation then promptly go on to play his best to win for Barca. That does not remove from the honesty of his words; as I recall he stated, he would not mind much if both sides were to meet in the finals, meaning: he would want Arsenal to play to the last 2, as much as he wants the same for Barca. As it stands, this stage, one of the two must be knocked out. Henry does love the club and is probably, looking to come back, in some capacity in future.
Although I don't agree entirely with LD's sentiment, I don't think he's 'slating' Henry. He's just made an observation, and one I personally think is correct. I don't think he's pointed out a flaw in character as such, just an element of Henry's character that he thinks is sometimes used in excess. Personally I agree with all of that, but I actually quite like the fact that he 'lays it on thick', because even if what he's saying isn't genuine, what he means is.
AR has it pretty much right, am I really "slating" Henry? Honestly, look at what I've said. I've basically said I think he's exaggerating. You honestly can't see that? And if you can't, is that honestly such a terrible thing to say? As formy persistence in one thread, you should know well enough that it's hardly our of character for me to argue my point ad nauseam. I can handle any person expressing their emotional side, I'm just saying I think he's hamming it up. Like he did at away matches for his last two years at Arsenal when his effort was pretty sub par but he thought that by turning around to the away contingent at the final whistle and kissing the badge that that was o.k. You know when Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey get on stage and say, "I just wanna say I love each and every one of you." You kind of think, "hmmm, I'm sure you're genuinely grateful to your fans, but that's a bit much." That's kind of what I'm saying here. I'm sure in some parallel blog universe there's a Vital Mariah Carey site where a poster called sikolaijns is requesting the non Mariah believer be burned at the stake.
Little Dutch
Umm I think you've taken my posts a little literally Tim, I was actually poking a little fun at those who won't hear anything other than glowing praise for the fragile little statues they pedastalise. Thought it was glaringly obvious really!
Unless I've stumbled upon your secret that you are a witch, in which case I apologise and assure you I think witches are cool, so no hexes or spells please, ta.
Your spidey senses are off kilter, I myself was wielding the unseamly sword of sarcasm too in that last sentence.
Little Dutch
Though I did once suspect myself of being a witch, with a beguiling power to afflict any woman in Croydon with a terrifying itch. Turned out I just had a really bad case of genital warts.
Little Dutch
My spidey sense is always off kilter mate, I'm sat here covered in my own web as we speak. A hex and a pox on genital warts, I had them for a year! acid, freezing - nothing worked :( I had one giant one I called manic miner - cos it had made it's way half way down the shaft.
I agree with Trennon, the way Barcelona persued Henry only for him to end up as “just another player” leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Whatever his motives for saying it, to state that he does not want to play against an opponent must make his current employer, and particularly the fans, livid and I think that that’s great payback for us. Perhaps TH is looking to work for Arsenal once his playing days have come to an end.
Sir Henry
I don't think anyone in this debate -- LD or the Henry defenders -- have been too strong in their comments. Don't see a lot wrong with LD's comments or with those who've expressed disagreement.
oh wtf, burn the witch anyway. :-)
"As for my persistence in one thread, you should know well enough that it's hardly our of character for me to argue my point ad nauseam". Yep, LD. That will be you, alright. Okay; "slating" Henry, you did not, but, hey! Give the man a break. I don't see it as "exaggerating", rather him expressing his first, true emotion, for any number of reasons; Henry is very deliberate in all of his actions & words and must be 'communicating' to someone or group (Arsenal fans or Barca Management); but, like I said, if he is picked, I have no doubt he will play to score goals. It is, afterall, a Job. And, if you are a Witch, before you are burnt, how about casting a losers' spell on Manure and Chelsea for about 2 games?
Little Dutch - You make a fair point and personally I don't give a fig about his comments either way. No one is perfect and Henry is perfectly entitled to be criticised as much as the next person. Whether people like it or not, but I do think there is a slightly extended annoyance with him that perhaps wouldn't be there with other ex players did he borrow a tenner off you and "forget" to pay it back?
Not at all, I think it's magnified because you won't get many Arsenal fans doing anything other than lavishing him with god like praise. There again, if I'm honest, I loved the footballer but I never warmed to the character where Henry was concerned.
Little Dutch
I'm sure his golden boots, multitude of medals, player of the eyar awards and his millions of pouds are of no comfort to him right now.......
Little Dutch

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