Thierry's Final Farewell?
Arsenal`s record goalscorer and the apple of many a Gooner eye, Thierry Henry has admitted that he "hasn`t thought about" how he will sign off his second stint at Arsenal after Wednesday night`s encounter in Milan. Having already secured two late winners and a last gasp goal against Blackburn last week, Henry has ensured his league and cup sojourns have been an unqualified success. But with the Frenchman`s return to Champions League action on Wednesday and his last game before jetting back to his New York pied a terre (for surely London is his home?), even the least romantic Gooner cannot deny themselves a daydream about a prospective Henry goal in the San Siro- the setting for one of his greatest Arsenal triumphs.
In line with the role he has played in his second stint, Henry urges that his professionalism has prevented him from dreaming of another fairytale, "I just want to help Arsenal on the night. I am an Arsenal player for one more game. Milan is another type of game and it`s never easy to win away in the Champions League." Henry has rather excelled in the role of elder statesman- a role I must confess I doubted he could ever fill. His influence appears to have been positive- from training ground testimonies, to the image of Henry thumping his fists from the sidelines as a chance goes begging. Possibly the best indicator of the rapport he has created would be the reaction of his teammates to each of his goals.
However, there`s always a sense that the vaudevillian in Henry is always lurking. Endearingly, you can tell that he recognises and appreciates the romance of his fairytale return. On the Arsenal Legend DVD released in 2007, a return to the club was put to Henry and he answered, with typical Gallic charm, "You always come back to where you belong." Even then, Henry can`t seriously have thought that reprieve would come as a player. So when Henry was put the question of a third return, it`s perhaps unsurprising he playfully answered, "When it comes to Arsenal, it`s difficult to say no."
This was before adding, presumably with a string heavy, weepy tune playing over the top, "One day if they need any help, I will be around." It`s achingly fashionable amongst supporters to urge their clubs to hand out "ambassadorial" roles willy nilly, without ever actually considering what it is an ambassador actually does or whether the return from such a role is worth wage bill space. (For all the hand wringing about Vieira`s 'Development` role at City being an opportunity missed by Arsenal, can someone tell me what that job entails for eight hours a day and why exactly it is such a missed opportunity?) However, given Henry`s effect on the squad this time around, questions will persist as to whether he returns post retirement. Particularly as you can hardly see the man himself doing anything to douse that innuendo. You rather imagine he`d be happy to come back and clean the bogs. LD.