Henry forever linked with brilliance at Arsenal

Henry forever linked with brilliance at Arsenal
A file picture taken on January 9, 2012 shows Arsenal's French player Thierry Henry, on loan from New York Red Bulls, celebrating scoring a goal during the third round FA Cup football match between Arsenal and Leeds United at The Emirates Stadium in London.

PARIS - Winning the World Cup on home soil should be the pinnacle of any player's career but Thierry Henry's greatest achievement is that he will go down in history as an Arsenal and Premier League legend.

The former France striker, who formally retired on Tuesday, will never be afforded the reverence of Michel Platini or Zinedine Zidane in his homeland but his 175 league goals in eight years at Arsenal helped earn him the honour of being voted the club's greatest ever player in a 2008 fan poll.

"He is an Arsenal man. The best moments certainly of his life and his career have been experienced here," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of the 37-year-old Henry earlier this month.

Similar to Zidane, whose international career ended controversially with an infamous headbutt in the 2006 World Cup final, Henry also triggered worldwide rage after he handled the ball before setting up William Gallas for the goal that sent Les Bleus to the 2010 finals at the expense of Ireland.

The incident, however, remains a minor stain on the career of Henry, whose journey started at the French national football academy in Clairefontaine.

The speedy striker signed his first professional contract with Monaco in 1994 when the club was managed by his future Arsenal boss Wenger.

He scored nine goals in 36 matches and won the first of his 123 caps in a 2-1 win over South Africa in 1997, scoring the first of his French record 51 goals against the same opponents in the opening game of the 1998 World Cup. 

BRONZE STATUE

Henry, who also briefly played for Juventus before joining Arsenal in 1999, ended his international career against South Africa at the 2010 World Cup after staying out of trouble during the off-pitch fiasco that marred France's disastrous campaign.

His name was long made by then as Henry, courtesy of his trademark long-range curled shots into the top corner, was already an Arsenal legend - one who in 2011 was immortalised with a bronze statue outside the Emirates stadium.

Scoring 228 goals from 377 games, winning two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners, Henry won the fans over before moving to Barcelona in 2007 and the United States in 2010 to end his career with the New York Red Bulls in the MLS.

Having won the World Cup and Euro 2000 with France, named man of the match in the final against Italy, Henry completed his European trophy haul with a 2009 Champions League triumph with Barcelona.

Henry's retirement also almost brings down the curtain on the 1998 World Cup-winning squad with only David Trezeguet and Robert Pires still active - although both play in the eight-team Indian Super League.

A great connoisseur of the game, Henry will now fittingly work as an analyst for Sky Sports, likely biding his time before making an Arsenal comeback in some capacity.

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