Nostalgic Thoughts on Henry’s Return

By on March 24, 2010

Please welcome aboard Arsenal Station’s newest guest contributor, Greg Schwartz. He is a fellow New York Gooner and Nevada Smith’s regular. Greg is currently studying Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. With Thierry’s impending return looming, Greg recalls some of his favorite memories of the club’s greatest ever goalscorer.

As I think about the impending return of Thierry Henry to the Arsenal faithful, one memory, more than anything else, stands out in my mind.  No, it’s not “that” goal against Manchester United, beating Barthez with a sublime half volley from the edge of the eighteen; nor is it “that” other goal against Manchester United heading in Eboue’s perfect cross on 94 minutes; nor is it the sublimely skillful run to put the Arsenal through at the Bernabeu.

In fact, it’s probably the only memory of mine that isn’t eternally enshrined on youtube.  Perhaps the most significant memory of Theirry Henry that is embedded in my mind isn’t a goal itself, but what he meant to our fans.

My little trip down memory lane takes me to the last North London derby at Highbury, where Wenger had decided to rest Theirry along with Cesc Fabregas, the other man making a return home this Champions League tie.  Arsenal were chasing Tottenham for the fourth and final Champions League spot and the outlook in that game was dismal.  Spurs bossed the first half, and early in the second, took the lead through Robbie Keane.  Then it happened.

Henry began jogging down the touchline, and even 3000 miles away, through my TV, I heard the roar.  The fans raised their voices singing his name; such was the confidence in the Frenchman.  I felt as if I could hear the ground shaking, even a continent away.  You knew every second that he would score.  And lo and behold, on 84 minutes, Adebayor burst brilliantly past Staltieri, and slotted in Thierry, who of course, could not miss.  That was Henry, for Arsenal: the passion, the skill, and the lift he brought to us fans.

It’s for that reason that I have mixed emotions about the return of Thierry.  On the one hand, I miss watching the silky skills and beautiful goals that I have tried to, and exclusively failed to, emulate during my less than illustrious AYSO career.  On the other hand, Thierry himself summed it up best calling it “weird” to step on the pitch wearing another shirt.  I expect the fans to respond the same way, as an almost bittersweet reunion.  I know I will be applauding, and I know the stands will be too.

Thierry’s Arsenal career was a blessing for both him and our fans.  As such, he will return to a hero’s welcome without a doubt.  The Nou Camp’s response to Cesc Fabregas however, remains to be seen.  Thierry’s Arsenal career and Cesc’s fledgling Barcelona experience have nearly no comparison.  After all, when Steve Sidwell, Matty Upson, and Seb Larsson (to name a few) return to Arsenal the response typically sums up indifference.

That said, Cesc Fabregas’s return to Barcelona presents an entirely different situation as he is the object of their constant affection.  I don’t believe he will return to raucous applause, nor do I believe the crowd will meet him with spite for spurning their advances.

I believe the response will be somewhere in between, a mix of praise, to entice, and wishful ambivalence.  I do expect that the Arsenal response to our captain will consist of an outpouring of praise; serving as a reminder that our crown jewel will never be theirs.

Coming home in sports is tricky, for the fans and for the players.  This tie in particular has so much history and so much passion that I don’t think one can truly quantify the feelings of any fan or player in this situation.  I’m curious as to the Arsenal response, as much as I anxiously await watching Cesc wear the yellow arm band out onto the Nou Camp pitch.

Whatever happens, even if Thierry’s last goal at an Arsenal ground does not come for us; I know I’ll be singing his name.  Finally, if I could be there, and not in the purgatory that is mid-western America, I would sing a chorus of “We’ve got the best player in the world” to commemorate both our time with Thierry, and our new gem Cesc.


  1. ashburtongrove.co.uk

    March 24, 2010 at 6:14 am

    The thing I remember most about Thierry was that whenever he played for Arsenal you knew you were in the presence of greatness.

    Just thinking back to some of those days makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

    It’s going to be great to see him again at the Grove, we’ll sing his song before kick off then once that whilse goes we’ll focus on the game in hand, much like we did when Patrick Vieira returned to Highbury with Juventus.

  2. rosicknote

    March 24, 2010 at 6:21 am

    I must say for a first time piece (if it is), this is brilliantly good. I can’t help feel the same thing. He’s been a trumendous player for us, I don’t think we can ever have a playe even half as fantastic as him.

    Good luck Titi, wherever you may be, you will always be in our hearts and minds.

  3. joe

    March 24, 2010 at 7:11 am

    I fear he’ll not get to play, which would be a shame … Maybe a final 10 mins if it’s going well for them.

    Thierry Henry – forever a gentleman, a genius and an Arsenal legend!

  4. piken79

    March 24, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Its going to be weird but I think Pedro will play, which is not a bad thing in itself. I believe he will come on in the 2nd half either way to get his standing ovation. I don’t think Pep will start a player who clearly will be affected in his mind, its going to be too emotional for him to be at his best

  5. Dave

    March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Here’s what I remember most about Henry. He didn’t have faith in Arsenal to win the Champion’s League, so he left. When Eduardo went down with the horrific leg break and our season fell apart, I can’t help but think of how much Henry could have helped since when we went on to lose the title by 3 points. I can’t help but think that he would have turned a couple if those 8 successive draws into wins. Considering how far we have gone the past few seasons in the CL, who’s to say he couldn’t have won it here. Now he talks about how much he loves the Arsenal, but he isn’t here; is he? He didn’t have faith in the club. He can talk all he wants and you guys can reminisce and talk about how much he loves the club, but actions speak louder than words.

    • ArsenalStation

      March 24, 2010 at 5:52 pm

      Or he saw Wenger building a new team from the ground up and realized that he was proving detrimental to its development. All the young players including Fabregas have said that they didn’t feel as free to play on the pitch before Henry left as they did after. Cesc said he felt like he should always be passing the ball to him. Henry had become too big a figure at the club and in the team to be able to fit in with the new youth project. So, in reality, it was beneficial to all of us that he left at just the right time for him and the club. The year after he left we were a much better team (at least until February) than we were in 2006-07 so who’s to say that he would have made us better. Also who is to say that he wouldn’t have been injured anyway during that run of draws in Feb. and March? Besides if he had played, Adebayor would not have gotten as much playing time and he scored 30 goals that season. Dave, so any player who doesn’t stay his entire career with one team doesn’t love the club? If Henry didn’t love the club and wanted to jump ship he could’ve done it in 2001, 2003, or even 2005. He gave his prime to the club and left at the age of 30… that says alot.

  6. Colin

    March 24, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I, as many Gooners, came to love Arsenal due in large to Thierry Henry and the beautiful way he played the game. Too often I find myself watching videos on youtube of his Arsenal goals. I love the way he moved. And I love the way he carries himself on and off the pitch. He’s pure class, and it will be very hard for me to see him in a different shirt against Arsenal.

    Check out the link to his video interview talking about the tie at the bottom the post at Arsenal A.M. (http://arsenalam.com/).
    The link is just above a more lighthearted and funny embedded video from a post-game press conference involving Cesc and Henry. If you haven’t seen it before, check that out as well.

  7. dave

    March 25, 2010 at 12:14 am

    I’m just stating the less popular opinion. Everything you said is nothing new and has been regurgitated by fans and pundits alike. Are we a better club, yes. I wholeheartedly agree and there is no way to be sure there would have been a different result, but that’s not the point. The bottom line is that his professed love for the club will have him on the other side of the pitch come match day.

  8. peter

    March 25, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Arsene Wenger should return back Thiery like he deed to Sol Campbel in order to make a good experienced sqaud of players ,one at the back and the other at the front and then allow Silvestre to go on free transfer ,add a another new signing next season

  9. yeap

    March 25, 2010 at 5:51 am

    welcome Greg!

  10. jonathan

    March 25, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Oh man, I am looking forward to seeing him on the same pitch as Arsenal again. I will always have the highest of opinions for Henry. I would like to see Arsenal win 5-3, and Thierry to have all three for Barca.

    • Colin

      March 26, 2010 at 1:49 am

      I think I’d rather 1-nil then 5-3.

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