Arsenal’s Century Club – Thierry Henry
Thierry appeared in 377 games over a 13 year period and scored 226 goals.
Thierry was born and raised in Les Ulis suburb of Paris which, despite sometimes being seen as a tough neighbourhood, provided good football facilities. As a seven-year-old, he showed great potential, and was recruited by the local club CO Les Ulis. He joined US Palaiseau in 1989, but after a year his father fell out with the club, so Henry moved to ES Viry-Châtillon and played there for two years.
In 1990, Monaco sent scout Arnold Catalano to watch Thierry, when he was just 13 years old, he scored all six goals in a 6–0 win. Catalano asked him to join Monaco without even having a trial first, later he joined Arsène Wenger’s Monaco as a youth player. Subsequently, he signed professional forms and made his professional debut in August 1994. Although Wenger suspected that Thierry should be deployed as a striker, he put him on the left wing because he believed that his pace, natural ball control and skill would be more effective against full-backs than centre-backs.
He was named the French Young Footballer of the Year in 1996, and in the 1996–97 season when Monaco won the Ligue 1 title. By his third season, he had received his first cap for the national team, and was part of the winning team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He continued to impress during his tenure with Monaco, and in his five seasons he scored 20 league goals in 105 appearances.
Thierry left Monaco in January 1999 and moved to Italian Serie A club Juventus for £10.5 million. He played on the wing, but found it difficult playing in an unfamiliar position against the Serie A defensive discipline, and scored just three goals in 16 appearances. Unsettled in Italy, he transferred from Juventus in August 1999 to Arsenal for an estimated fee of £11 million, reuniting with his former manager Arsène Wenger. It was at Arsenal that he made his name as a world-class footballer. Brought in as a replacement for fellow French forward Nicolas Anelka, Thierry was immediately moulded into a striker by Wenger, a move that would pay rich dividends in years to come. However, doubts were raised about his ability to adapt to the quick and physical English game when he failed to score in his first eight games.
After several difficult months in England he conceded that he had to “be re-taught everything about the art of striking”. These doubts were dispelled when he ended his first season at Arsenal with an impressive goal tally of 26. Arsenal finished second in the league behind Manchester United, and lost in the UEFA Cup Final against Turkish side Galatasaray. Despite recording fewer goals and assists than his first season, his second season with Arsenal proved to be a breakthrough, as he became the club’s top goal scorer. Armed with one of the league’s best attacks, Arsenal closed in quickly on perennial rivals Manchester United for the league title.
Success finally arrived during the 2001–02 season. Arsenal finished seven points above Liverpool to win the league title, and defeated Chelsea 2–0 in the FA Cup Final. Thierry became the league’s top goal-scorer and netted 32 goals in all competitions as he led Arsenal to a double and his first silverware with the club. 2002–03 proved to be another productive season for him, as he scored 32 goals in all competitions while contributing 23 assists, remarkable returns for a striker. In doing so, he led Arsenal to another FA Cup triumph, where he was man-of-the-match in the Final. Even though Arsenal failed to retain their Premier League crown, he was named both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year. His rising status as one of the world’s best footballers was affirmed when he emerged runner-up for the 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year award.
In the 2003–04 season Thierry was again instrumental in Arsenal’s exceptionally successful campaign; together with team mates the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pirès, he ensured that the Gunners became the first team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league season unbeaten, claiming the league title in the process. He was named as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year, for the second year running. With 39 goals scored in all competitions, he led the league in goals scored and won the European Golden Boot.
In the 2004–05 season he maintained his reputation as one of Europe’s most feared strikers as he led the league in scoring, and with 31 goals in all competitions, he was the co-recipient (with Diego Forlán) of the European Golden Boot. In mid-2005 Thierry became the Arsenal Captain.
The 2005–06 season proved to be one of remarkable personal achievements for Thierry on 17 October 2005, he became the club’s top goal-scorer of all time; two goals against Sparta Prague in the Champions League meant he broke Ian Wright’s record of 185 goals. On 1 February 2006, he scored a goal against West Ham United, bringing his league goal tally up to 151, breaking Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin’s league goals record. He completed the season as the league’s top goal-scorer, and for the third time in his career, he was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year.
In a surprise move Arsenal sold Thierry to Barcelona on 25 June 2007, for €24 million.
Henry left Arsenal as the club’s leading all-time league goal-scorer with 174 goals and leading all-time goal-scorer in Europe with 42 goals; in July 2008, Arsenal fans voted him as Arsenal’s greatest player ever in Arsenal.com’s Gunners’ Greatest 50 Players poll. Following his time with Barcelona, he signed a four-year deal for a reported €6.8 (£4.6) million per season, with the Red Bulls of the MLS.
After training with Arsenal during the MLS off-season, Thierry re-signed for the club on a two-month loan deal on 6 January 2012. This was to provide cover for players participating in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. He made his second Arsenal debut as a substitute against Leeds United in the FA Cup third round and scored the only goal. In his last league game on loan, he scored the winning goal in stoppage time in a 2–1 win against Sunderland.
Awards and honours:
Ligue 1 (1): 1996–97
Trophée des champions (1): 1997
Premier League titles: 2001–02, 2003–04
FA Cup: 2002, 2003, 2005
FA Community Shield: 2002, 2004
La Liga: 2008–09, 2009–10
Copa del Rey: 2008–09
Supercopa de España: 2009
UEFA Champions League: 2008–09
UEFA Super Cup: 2009
FIFA Club World Cup: 2009
New York Red Bulls:
MLS Eastern Conference: 2010
1998 FIFA World Cup
UEFA Euro 2000
FIFA Confederations Cup2003
UNFP Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year (1): 1996–97
PFA Players’ Player of the Year (2): 2002–03, 2003–04
PFA Team of the Year (6): 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06
FWA Footballer of the Year (3): 2002–03, 2003–04, 2005–06
Premier League Golden Boot (4): 2001–02, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06.
Golden Boot Landmark Award 10 (1): 2004–05
Golden Boot Landmark Award 20 (1): 2004–05
Premier League Player of the Month (4): April 2000, September 2002, January 2004, April 2004
Goal of the Season (1): 2002–03
UEFA Team of the Year (5): 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006
MLS Best XI (2): 2011, 2012
MLS Player of the Month (1): March 2012
Onze d’Or (2): 2003, 2006
European Golden Boot (2): 2003–04, 2004–05
French Player of the Year (5): 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
IFFHS World’s Top Goal Scorer of the Year (1): 2003
FIFA FIF Pro World XI (1): 2006
FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1): Germany 2006
FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball (1): France 2003
FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Shoe (1): France 2003
UEFA European Football Championship Team of the Tournament (1): 2000
FIFA 100: 2004
English Football Hall of Fame: 2008
A statue of Thierry stands outside the Emirates Stadium as a tribute to one of Arsenal’s greatest players
|Arsenal’s Century Club|
|** Games played to reach 100 goals.|
Thierry scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against West Ham at Highbury on January 19th, 2003.