A Look Back At Arsenal’s ‘Badman’
Tomorrow night sees the return of a true Arsenal legend…Thierry Henry. The player voted No.1 in an arsenal.com pole of the greatest ever Arsenal player. Arsenal’s all time record goal-scorer and arguably the greatest player to ever play in the premier league.
Henry will play against his former club for the first time when Arsenal face Barcelona in the champions league. It’s sure to be an emotional return for both Henry and the fans who adored him for 8 trophy-filled seasons. Thierry Henry is my favourite Arsenal player of all time, by quite some distance. His passion for the game, the graceful way he glided over the perfect Highbury surface, it was a joy to watch.
After arriving for £10.7 from Juventus as a pacey winger, Arsene Wenger soon converted Henry into a striker. It took him some time to settle into his new role, as he endured a mixed first year at the club. I remember going to see him during that first season at Wembley in the champions league against Dinamo Keiv. He missed a couple of one-on-one’s that night and nobody in the crowd would have imagined he would go on to become Arsenal’s record goal-scorer.
One of my greatest footballing memories was when Manchester United visited Highbury on April 16th 2003. I was sat in row E in the North Bank Lower Tier just to the right of the goal. Arsenal were trailing United in the league by 3 points, with a game in hand, and this was a true title 6-pointer.
United took the lead during a poor first period but Henry equalized early in the second half, then 10 minutes later Henry burst through and beat Barthez to give Arsenal the lead right in front of the North Bank. Thierry went ballistic and headed straight for the crowd and i was lucky enough to be standing face-to-face with him as he celebrated his goal with the Arsenal fans. It was amazing. My mates don’t believe me, but i swear he was shouting ‘I’m a badman’ right at me whilst beating his chest! I have always called him ‘Badman-Henry’ ever since. The game eventually ended 2-2 and Sol Campbell was controversially sent off for an elbow on Solskjaer, United went on the win the league, but i will always remember the moment i shared with Henry celebrating his goal.
He also scored my favourite goal ever. Again, at Highbury, i was in the North Bank for a North London derby against Tottenham. Thierry picked up the ball in his own half, ran through about 5 Spurs players and slotted the ball into the bottom corner. That goal was pure Henry.
Thierry has since moved on to Barcelona and went on to win the champions league medal his talent deserved, along with several other domestic trophies in Spain. Even though he has lost a couple of yards of pace these days and is nowhere near the player he was while at Arsenal, i am still not looking forward to seeing him play against us. Perhaps the only person on the planet who is looking forward to it less is Thierry himself!
I’m not sure how he will cope playing against Arsenal. He has always and continues to openly express his love for the club, Arsene Wenger and the fans. He described his dismay at the thought of facing The Gunner’s in a recent interview;
“I’m not saying I won’t try to fight or whatever because that’s the way the game is. 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.”
When asked if he would celebrate a goal, he added: “Forget about it. No. I do not want to play against Arsenal, simple as that.
“The bond that I have with the Arsenal fans I will never get anywhere else.
Can you imagine if he does score?! I wouldn’t be surprised if he apologised!
I hope he gets an amazing reception when he walks out in a Barcelona shirt at the Emirates, I’m sure he will as long as there aren’t too many ‘fans’ who choose to remember the ridiculously over-hyped hand-ball incident versus the Irish over all he did for Arsenal Football Club.
Whatever happens on Wednesday night, Thierry Henry will always be an Arsenal legend.
Got a favourite Thierry Henry memory? How do you feel about Henry’s return? Please leave your comments below….
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