Thierry Henry – Is he only a club Legend?
Henryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy- the scream of commentator Martin Tylor will be remembered by Gunners forever as it was the sound that they use to hear after each of Thierry Henry’s goal for Arsenal. Earlier this week , he has called time on his career and retired from professional football. He is a living legend of Arsenal. He has won several trophies for them after moving from Italian club Juventus. He has also been a part of FC Barcelona later in his career, winning many trophies. For France in the national colours, he has won a World Cup and a Euro Cup. Although rated highly by many experts, Henry was not that much successful for France. Many people say that he was unable to replicate his club form for the national team. Was it really the case for a player, who played a big part in winning World Cup and Euro Cup for his national side? Let’s look back at his achievements for both clubs and national team during his prime.
Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona. Most footballers would be glad and proud to play for just one of those clubs over the course of their whole career: Thierry Henry played for all of them. The former France international plied his career in five different nations with five different clubs, breaking through at Monaco and moving on to Juventus before really coming of age and capability at Arsenal. He later moved to Barcelona before ending his career with New York Red Bulls (NYRB). He topped the charts in goal scoring in Premier League and won the Premier League Golden Boot four times (2001-02, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06). He is Arsenal’s leading goal scorer of all time with 228 goals. Also, He finished his career with the highest number of assists in for NYRB.
After an uncertain start to his Monaco career in 1992, Henry was named the French Young Footballer of the Year in 1996. After a moderate run with Juventus, he joined Arsenal by the pursuit of his former Monaco manager Arsene Wenger. There he finished as the top scorer in the league with 24 goals to his name. He scored 32 goals in all competitions thereby starting a run of five successive seasons where he topped the goals’ tally across various competitions. The team as a whole were just as extraordinary, winning both the Premier League and FA Cup to clinch the double in 2002. 2003 was a top year for Henry personally as he won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award and the FWA Footballer of the Year. He was also voted into the PFA Team of the Year and the UEFA Team of the Year. The striker was in the form of his life; scoring at will and showing great poise and power to be one of the biggest threats anywhere in the game. That was recognised as Henry was nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year, eventually finishing in second place behind fellow countryman Zinedine Zidane. Arsenal fans will never forget 2003-04 as they went through the entire Premier League season unbeaten to claim another league title. Henry was, of course, central to all that the “Invincibles” achieved that year. He scored 30 goals in 37 league games and 39 in all competitions. Henry’s tally of 30 in the top flight was also enough to find him crowned the top scorer in Europe, winning the Golden Boot as a result. Wenger said of his fellow Frenchman: “Thierry Henry could take the ball in the middle of the park and score a goal that no one else in the world could score”. Again in 2006, he became the top scorer for Arsenal across all competitions. A statue of Henry’s trademark goal celebration outside the Emirates Stadium stands as a tribute to all he accomplished with the London club. “He deserves it, he is a fantastic player,” Ian Wright, the man Henry surpassed atop the Gunners’ scoring charts, said at the time. “It is no mean feat to come second to a player like that.”
After leaving Arsenal in 2007, Henry joined Barcelona in Spain and formed part of a deadly attacking line up which included a growing Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto’o. Henry’s best year with the Catalan side came in 2009 as he helped them win the Copa Del Rey and La Liga, with the Champions League following soon afterward. Further success was around the corner at the start of the next season, still in 2009, as Barcelona won the Supercopa, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup— a sextuple, every tournament won which they entered, with Henry a huge part of it.
In 1998 World Cup at his home soil, he scored in the group-stage match against South Africa and scored a brace against Saudi Arabia. Inspite of starting the campaign as a surprise inclusion, Henry finished as the leading goal scorer for France in their maiden World Cup winning venture. Two years later in the Euro 2000, which they also won he netted against Denmark and Czech Republic in the group stage and further scored one more, a crucial equaliser, in the semi-final against Portugal. In 2002 World Cup he couldn’t score and France were eliminated from the group stage. Henry returned to form for his country at the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. Despite playing without Zidane and Patrick Vieira, France won the tournament largely due to Henry’s exceptional performance. He was adjudged the Man of the Match by FIFA’s Technical Study Group in three of France’s five matches. He also scored the golden goal in the final to lift the title for the host country. Henry was awarded with both the Adidas Golden Ball award as the excellent player of the competition and the Adidas Golden Shoe as the tournament’s top goal-scorer with four goals. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup Henry was one of the regular starters in the squad and scored three goals, including the winning goal from Zidane’s free kick which eliminated the defending champions Brazil from the competition in the quarter-final. Henry did not played much part in 2010 World Cup in South Africa and his sole appearance was as a second half substitute against the host nations. France lost the match by 2-1 and were eliminated from the tournament. Subsequently he announced his retirement from international football, having won a record 123 caps and scoring a national record of 51 goals for the Les Bleus.
Henry had a great ability to score from free-kicks. But his trademark style was scoring in the far post from outside the box after cutting inside from the left wing. In 2004, former Arsenal striker Alan Smith commented on Henry: “I have to say I haven’t seen a player like him. He’s an athlete with great technical ability and a tremendous desire to be the best”. Although he scored 51 goals for France including the goals in their World Cup and Euro triumph, but his critics argue that he couldn’t deliver in the biggest stage after 2000. During 2001-06, He was at his peak form for Arsenal. Unfortunately, he could not replicate that form for France except the Confederations Cup. Questions were raised after a disappointing show in 2002 World Cup. Many people said that he cannot perform in big stages when the other star player like Zidane was not in the team due to injury. In 2010 World Cup qualifier, France were second in the group and won the controversial play-off to qualify for the World Cup finals. In the play-off against Ireland, he controlled a long pass with his hand before making the assist for teammate William Gallas.
He scored many goals for France and many matches. But people expected more from him after his eye-catching performance for Arsenal. Most of his goals in the World Cup and Euro have come in the group stage. Some fans always consider him a legend, but could not compare him with other legends like Zidane, Platini etc. With his overall achievements, it can be said that Thierry Henry was a great French footballer who has served the French football over the years, but people will always remember him for his brilliance for Arsenal.