In 2011, a bronze statue of Thierry Henry was unveiled outside of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. In that sense, he’s always at Arsenal. His picture can be spotted in many locations in and around the ground with the club trying to pay homage to their record goalscorer.
When Henry left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2007, he was the club captain and had scored 226 goals in 339 games. In his eight years at the club, he won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups. He was named Football Writer’s Footballer of the Year three times and won the Premier League golden boot on four separate occasions.
Beyond the stats however, Henry epitomized everything good about the side which would eventually go unbeaten for the entirety of the 2003-2004 season. His skill, flair and pace terrorized defenders whilst his ability to produce moments of magic made fools of many a goalkeeper.
Since his departure, he has gone on to win more major honours with Barcelona whilst gaining hero status in America for his time with New York Red Bulls.
Now however, that time with the Red Bulls is over and Henry, now 37, is left wondering what the future holds.Many suggest that he’ll call it a day and hang up his boots but that would be a wasted opportunity. Instead of ending his career with a defeat in an MLS Play-offs semi-final, Henry needs to be given the chance to end his career with one final spell at the club he loves, in front of the fans who adore him.
In May 2006, Henry scored a hat-trick in the final game at Arsenal’s old stadium, Highbury to help his side leap-frog arch-rivals Tottenham into the fourth and final Champions League spot. If later that month, he had captained Arsenal to their first ever Champions League victory, then it would have been the best time for Henry to depart. No greater achievement could have been achieved. Arsenal however lost the final to Barcelona, who Henry joined in 2007 for ?16 million.
Henry of course, has already had one return to Arsenal in 2012. His winning goal against Leeds on his ‘second debut’ was one of the most magic moments Arsenal fans have seen at the Emirates. In his brief spell, he would add one more goal to his tally, scoring the winner again, this time against Sunderland.
Arsene Wenger recently said he would welcome Henry back to the club in a coaching role, if it a role was to become available. It’s clear that though there might not be a hole that needs filling in the Arsenal coaching staff, there is something which could be added.
After his hat-trick against Galatasaray, people made comparisons between the style of Danny Welbeck and Henry. Welbeck is nowhere near Henry’s level, but working day in and day out with Henry would only be beneficial for Arsenal, Wenger and Welbeck.
Teddy Sheringham has been praised for the effect he’s had on West Ham since his return as striker coach and Arsenal would reap similar benefits by bringing in Henry to work with the likes of Welbeck as well as Theo Walcott who, is similar in style to Henry and wants to prove his worth as a centre forward.
Before this happens however, Henry’s last game should be at the Emirates. Unless they reach the FA Cup final, Arsenal end the season at home to West Bromwich Albion on 26th May. This should be when the man who once declared he’d even return to Arsenal as a water boy, should bow out of the game.
At least that will be the romantic, fairy-tale end to the story. What actually happens remains to be seen. If it is the case however that Thierry Henry has played his final professional game of football, then what a career it has been!