Thierry Henry – One of the all time greats, Yes! – Legend, No!


by Stanislaus Randall

Thierry Henry is and always will be
regarded as one of the greatest players to every grace these isles with both
opposition players and fans like watching him score goal after goal for Arsenal,
I still believe that, but is he a legend? Not in my eyes. One of the greatest
to pull on an Arsenal Shirt, mostly definitely.

Why is he not a legend then? I hear you
ask… Because, like most footballers, he put his own personal glories before the
club he said he loved.  After
losing the Champions League final, he was believed to have announced aboard the
flight back home he was staying at Arsenal – resisting Barcelona’s bid to bring
Henry to the Catalan Club.

Two days later, Thierry said the following:

19 May 2006

At a press conference on Friday to announce
a four-year deal, the Arsenal captain said:

“This is my last contract. It
is where I belong.”*

And then he explained why.

“Here, they understand and respect
football… We lost on Wednesday [in the Champions League
Final] but when I turned to clap the fans they were still there and they
clapped us. In some other countries they would have left or been upset with the
team but they understood that on the day we gave everything. We gave it our best

“The season before this we lost 4-2 to
Man United. In other Leagues if you lose 4-2 to one of your rivals they will
wait for you at the end of the game. Here they clapped and understood that
maybe on the day they were better than us.

“I watch other [overseas] games on
television every weekend, if it is not Juve, Barcelona or Real Madrid the
stadiums are not full. In France if it is not Lyon, Paris or Marseille then the
stadium is not full either .

“In England I even enjoy playing away
from home and getting some stick. It is just the passion that they have here.
You can do your job in a nice way and people will always respect what you are
doing.” *

Our leader and world class player, having
been made captain the year before – when Patrick Vieira left for Juventus –
decided that Arsenal and the Premier League would see Henry on a new bumper
contract to lead them into Arsenal’s new stadium, The Emirates. 

However, signs started to appear that
chipped away at the legend status throughout that Champions League Campaign
season 2005/2006, where I believed the captaincy gave him a blinkered platform
to preach from, and led to reducing teammates to bit parts in the new found
Thierry show.  The often misplaced
pass was met with ‘the look’ or a galliac wave of the arms – asking why the ball
was not provided at exactly the right time.  Thierry had forgotten he started with the likes of the
famous back four as his guidance

I always believe it aided in part to the
Reyes decline, and our disappointment in him not becoming the player we had all
hoped he would.

Wenger’s youth project  was also starting to
emerge at the same time, and Henry was the wrong personality to lead it – with
some of the younger players playing in awe of the man himself, rather than
playing for the team.

His last season was marred by injuries. The
speed and power that made Henry  the once fleet-footed forward admired by all,
was starting to decline – and a bulkier Henry emerged.  Highlights, however, still appeared – like the last minute
winner against United at the Emirates, and scoring a wonderful goal against
Liverpool away that showed that he had a few races left in him.

The season finished without a trophy again,
and rumours again started up that Thierry was wanted by Barcelona.


But this
time he left, one year into his ‘last contract’. His reason for leaving is

23 June 2007

“I have said it so many times. Before
Mr Dein left, for whatever reason, I went to the boss and said I don’t want to
leave. There had been a lot of speculation about me and I assured him that I
did not want to leave. But after Mr Dein left that unsettled the team and the
boss. Especially as at the moment he has not committed himself to the club. He
said he will see out his contract but you cannot be sure if he is going to go
or stay [at the end of next season]. Hopefully he is going to stay but I need
to be certain and reassured of that. Everybody knows I am 30. The boss
being unsettled, Mr Dein going, it did unsettle me a bit. After that I had
thoughts of leaving the club. 
“It is a difficult day for me to come here at Emirates Stadium and talk
about this. But I want to come here explain why to the fans. I want to be
certain of where the club was going and reassured in a way. I wasn’t and I have
chosen to go.” *

And this is the reason why, even though he
is one of the greatest players to have ever played for the club, I believe
there are others players worthy of a statue.  Thierry put personal glory above his so called love of
a club.

Thierry deserted, in his eyes, a ‘so called
sinking ship’ and put personal relationships before anything else.  We, as supporters, live by the sword, die
by the sword – the king was dead, long live the new king.  The club and football in general is a
soap opera we are all part of, albeit in favour or in anger at decisions, which
our club makes. But when have our backs against the wall we still support them. When they win trophies, we crave more. We want the best for our team, but this
idea makes football and Arsenal so unique.  Thierry didn’t want that, he wanted to chase the Champions
League, the missing piece in his collection and he eventually got it – but at the
cost of my ‘Legend’ status for him.

He was never loved at Barcelona like he was loved here. Project
Guardiola was starting and the rise of Messi, Bojan, Inestia and Pedro (being
homegrown) would always be seen as ‘theirs’. Henry seen as ‘Arsenal’s own’ was now a
lodger in someone else’s house. Even though he paid rent, he couldn’t own
it – like at Arsenal.   

Arséne is still there. When Dein left (and
talk is that he is ready to commit to Arsenal again) his personal challenge, as Manager, is
ensuring Arsenal are back at the top, A manager regardless of whatever
restraints he has had, continues to strive for the excellence he had in the 1st
chapter of his Arsenal stewardship. Thierry left in fear for the future, whereas most Arsenal fans embrace it. 

This is from Brian Glanville’s Guardian
obituary for David Rocastle:

When Rocastle was transferred to Leeds,
Paul Davis recalled: “He cried. We spoke about it quite often. He couldn’t
understand why they ever wanted him to go. The club’s line was that he was
injured, he was struggling with his weight, he’d had a knee operation. I don’t
think he ever recovered from the fact of leaving Arsenal, in his own mind.”

This quote from Dennis Bergkamp:

“I really like Arsenal. But you, do you
like Arsenal? Or just Arsenal with Trophies?”

Thierry once said:

“Once a gooner, always a

Really, Thierry, really?


*Thierry Henry statements from


Please Note: The above article is written by guest blogger, Stanislaus Randall. By publishing this article upon our site, Gunners Town does not accept any liability whatsoever as to the accuracy of the information or opinions stated herein, as they are based upon the personal opinion(s) of the writer. Any quotes therein have been supplied by the writer and Gunners Town does not accept liability as to their authenticity or accuracy! 



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2 Responses to Thierry Henry – One of the all time greats, Yes! – Legend, No!

  1. July 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm #


  2. July 20, 2013 at 6:58 pm #


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