Thierry Henry: Fifty Defining Fixtures
by Paul Joseph
Published by Amberley Publishing
With the waiting over and retirement announced, Thierry Henry’s mercurial career can be fully assessed. His departure from Arsenal, inevitable despite being elongated in the immediate aftermath of defeat to Barcelona, identifies the player.
Arsène took a World Cup winner and polished him into the complete goalscorer. Despite the plaudits and glory after leaving the club, Henry’s peak was in North London.
Published earlier this year, I suppose the only match omitted of note is his last; sentimental and to be honest, is it anything more than a neat end to an astonishing career?
Certainly it isn’t needed for this book, the author’s choice of matches across the full breadth of his career, not just Arsenal but clubs beyond that which give it a more rounded feel than the similar but nonetheless meritorious venture, Arsène Wenger – Fifty Defining Fixtures by Layth Yousif.
Of course with a book of this nature, there will be disagreements. Matches have to be omitted through issues of space and personal selection although refreshingly, it isn’t just matches in which he scored that feature. Of course the pivotal goals are here – first and last covered in equal measure – but included his non-scoring Arsenal debut was as surprising as the run-through of the 1998 season and World Cup.
The quick and easy opportunity was to just start at and end with Arsenal, perhaps throw in some Barcelona. Instead, you have a dozen internationals, a couple of Monaco – even Juve and New York Red Bulls make an appearance. Even if you can’t agree with the choices, you can’t argue with the thought and energy put into this book.
As you would expect, there is plenty to celebrate. Maniacally emotional nights and afternoons where Tottenham, Liverpool and United were put to the sword, as well as the likes of Leeds United. Of course, they were; that cup-tie, an evening where the script was written and duly delivered with a moment that rolled back the years. Will The Emirates ever again witness such an outpouring of unbridled love?
And for all that, the big regret of his career; that night in Paris. The glorious failure, a wrong he was able to right personally not long afterwards with his move to Barcelona justified as the Champions League winners medal was claimed with victory over Manchester United. It doesn’t make the pain any softer on our part and is always the fall back that he froze on the big occasion.
To which fingers point to goals in matches that dug Arsenal out of many holes.
Henry was the rarest of creatures in modern footbal, he parted ways with Arsenal and despite going to a club widely disliked, never lost his personal popularity amongst the fanbase. This collection is the perfect accompaniment to an outstanding career.
You can buy Thierry Henry: Fifty Defining Fixtures here.