Thierry Henry: Lonely at the Top
by Philippe Auclair
Published by MacMillan
One player who as much as anyone encapsulates the Wenger era is Thierry Henry. Player and managerial success are intertwined into Arsenal – and in particular Highbury – folklore.
Thierry Henry’s career at Arsenal is beautifully captured by Philippe Auclair in his biography of the legend. It is a brave man who takes on analysing and dissecting the life of someone who means so much to so many, whose goals contributed to arguably the most successful era in the club’s history.
In England, we are used to reading the nefarious tales of footballers and whilst Henry cannot be accused of descending to such low standards, this book does not always paint him in angelic light. Auclair explores the challenges as well as the glory. The lows, highs, trophies and disappointments. He deconstructs the inner workings of club and country; whilst not exploding myths exactly, he certainly makes the foundations wobble. Henry’s journey is fortunately not straightforward and it allows Auclair to present a rounded character assessment of the club’s record goalscorer.
In that sense, the prose glides across the surface as easily as the maestro in full flight. His career is plotted with great care and assessment, the machinations of his transfer to Juventus, the tribulations that led to Wenger saving a troubled prodigy. That move was repaid, a mutually beneficial moment for manager and player. The parting of the ways brings a temporary sadness, revived in a fairytale finish with that moment against Leeds United.
As Henry’s path through life is forged, one startling aspect is how relatively unaffected by fame he became. An intensely private man, he never sought the spotlight and was surprisingly in control of the public perception of the man, on and off the pitch. Auclair could have been dazzled by the feats for a club close to his heart and his country. There is an impressive distance between writer and subject which is not something one might have ordinarily expected.
Often a biography can reveal aspects of a person which are best not aired, making the halo of heroism’s shine a little duller. This is not the case, it isn’t a book that will make you love the man more but you will certainly have a deeper understanding of him. Auclair’s work is certainly something which should be in Christmas stockings all over the Arsenal world.
Follow this link to purchase Thierry Henry: Lonely at the Top: A Biography