Thierry Henry – Is he only a club Legend?

 Thierry Henry, an artist with the football in his feet, called it a day last week. Soumyadip Das gives him a tribute here with Goalden Times.

DC United v New York Red Bulls - Eastern Conference Semifinals

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.

Best XI : Transfer Deals

Best XI is a compilation of interesting events or snippets from the football world across different locations that we share with you. Best XI will seek to be about topics you are interested in and want explored. You may mail your requests to This month we showcase some memorable transfers in football market


Kaká: Sao Paulo to AC Milan (2003) for $12.2 Million

Kaká was creating quite a reputation for himself in Brazilian Football with São Paulo, scoring twenty-three goals in 59 appearances. A steady European interest culminated with him signing for the Rossoneri. He became quite a fan favourite in Milan and had a great spell with them. Kaká scored seventy goals in 193 appearances for AC Milan before moving to the Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2009. The charismatic owner of Milan, Silvio Berlusconi later referred to the amount he paid for Kaká as peanuts.

Alan Shearer: Southampton to Blackburn Rovers (1992) for $5.3 Million

In the summer of 1992, there was a transfer tussle between Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United for the then up-and-coming English striker Alan Shearer, who came through the ranks at Southampton and made quite a name for himself. Flushed with Jack Walker’s millions, Kenny Dalglish, the then Blackburn manager convinced Shearer to sign on the dotted lines. Even though he was hampered with injuries in his first season but he still managed to score 16 goals for his new club. In the 1993-94 season, his 31 goals helped Blackburn to finish second in the league table but it was his 34 goals in the 1994-95 season that clinched the one and only Premier League title for Blackburn.

P.S. After being snubbed by Shearer, Sir Alex Ferguson bought a certain Frenchman in 1992. We shall come to that later.

Patrick Viera: AC Milan to Arsenal (1996) for $5.7 Million

After an unproductive spell at Milan, Arsene Wenger bought the Frenchman to Arsenal. With his compatriot Emmanuel Petit, Viera formed a formidable midfield partnership that helped Arsenal do the double (Premier League and FA Cup) in 1998. He became the club captain in 2002 and was an important cog in the ‘Invincibles’ season.

He only scored 32 goals for the club but his contribution towards Arsenal goes beyond that. All that for just under $6 Million!

Gianfranco Zola: Parma to Chelsea (1996) for $7.3 Million


Signed in 1996 from Parma, Zola quickly adapted to English Football and helped Chelsea secure the FA Cup that season. He also became the first Chelsea player to win the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year award. A year later, he scored the winner in Cup Winner’s Cup match. In his seven-year spell with Chelsea, Zola scored 80 goals and is still regarded as a hero in Stamford Bridge.

Roberto Baggio: Fiorentina to Juventus (1990) for $13.6 Million


Baggio was sold to Juventus in 1990,amid outcry from Fiorentina fans, for what was a world record transfer fee of that time for any player. Soon after, there were riots in the streets of Florence leavingaround 50 people injured. Baggio replied to his fans, saying: “I was compelled to accept the transfer“. In the match he played for Juventus against Fiorentina in 1990, he refused to take a penalty; and when substituted he picked up a Fiorentina scarf thrown onto the field by fans and kissed it. He claimed: “Deep in my heart I am always purple“, the colour of Fiorentina.

Although he suffered a number of injuries in his time with Juventus, Baggio still managed to score seventy-eight goals in 141 appearances, in his five-year spell with the Old Lady.

Luis Figo: Barcelona to Real Madrid (2000) for $56 Million

In 2000, Luis Figo was part of one of the most controversial and (in)famous transfer deals in Football history. He made a move from Barcelona to their hated rivals, Real Madrid. Despite being a success at Barça and a fan favourite for five years, in his return to Nou Camp in 2002 for a league match, Figo got one of the vilest receptions from Barcelona fans.

He was part of the Galácticos era of Real Madrid that included the likes of Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and many more brilliant footballers and assembled a team that won almost everything that is there to be won.

Thierry Henry: Juventus to Arsenal (1999) for $17 Million

After an unhappy spell in Juventus, Arsene Wenger brought Thierry Henry to Arsenal in 1999 and thus started his love affair with Arsenal. He became one of the greatest players to grace English Football and broke Cliff Bastin’s record to become the highest ever goal-scorer for Arsenal. During Henry’s time, Arsenal won two Premier League titles and 3 FA Cups. He appeared two hundred and fifty four times for Arsenal and scored 174 goals. He came back for a short loan spell in 2012 and scored one goal in 4 appearances.

Robinho: Real Madrid to Manchester City (2008) for £32.5 Million


Robinho made it to the list, not because he had a great time with Manchester City but this transfer started the era that built a new power centre in English and World football. On summer transfer deadline day, Manchester City was bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group, and infused with the millions of the Abu Dhabi royal family, City splashed out the cash for Robinho, who was nailed down to go to Chelsea but came to Manchester.

His time at City was patchy at best. With occasional signs of brilliance, Robinho never really warmed up to the club or the fans or the city. He scored fourteen goals in 41 appearances before moving to AC Milan.


Peter Schmeichel: Brondby to Manchester United (1991) for £505,000

A UEFA Cup run with Brondby in 1991 which was ended by AS Roma in the semi-finals cemented Schmeichel’s standing as one of best in his position. Following his showings on the international scene, Manchester United bought him in 1991 for £505,000, a price which was described in 2000 by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as the “bargain of the century.” Schmeichel played the bulk of his career for United, eight years in total. With United, Schmeichel won five FA Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, one League Cup, and finally played his last match with United in ‘that night in Barcelona’.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Manchester United to Real Madrid (2009) for £80 Million

After a successful five-year spell in English football, playing for Manchester United, winning everything possible for the team, the Portuguese moved to Real Madrid in a record transfer deal for any player, in 2009. Despite winning the La Liga, just last season, Ronaldo has already scored more than 100 goals in just over three seasons and has a healthy rivalry with Argentine Lionel Messi, who plays for Barcelona.

Eric Cantona: Leeds United to Manchester United (1992) for £1.2 Million

After missing out on Alan Shearer, Manchester United shocked the world of football when they signed Cantona from Leeds in 1992, and it has proven to be one of the defining moments of Sir Alex Ferguson’s extraordinary era at the club. Cantona became a legend at United, with a host of unforgettable performances and goals helping the club to 4 league titles in five seasons. He also fired a dramatic winner against Liverpool in 1996 to win the FA Cup final at Wembley, and a second double in three seasons. Even after his dramatic retirement in 1997, the Frenchman left behind some fantastic memories.