Thierry Henry thrilled by statue tribute

 

Thierry Henry paid an emotional tribute to Arsenal and his former team-mates after seeing himself immortalised in a bronze statue outside Emirates Stadium this afternoon.

The Gunners record goalscorer was one of three club legends to be honoured as part of their 125th anniversary celebrations, with former manager Herbert Chapman and also captain Tony Adams, who led Arsene Wenger's men to the Double twice, each receiving a similar tribute.

Henry left Arsenal for Barcelona in June 2007, where the Frenchman would go on to lift the Champions League before moving to the Major Soccer League in the United States with New York Red Bulls.

The 34-year-old, however, insists Arsenal will always remain in his heart.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would have a statue like this in front of the stadium of the team I love and support," said Henry, who netted 226 goals as the Gunners won two Premier League titles and the FA Cup twice.

"The way the statue is gives the perfect example of the love I have for the club - me kneeling facing the Emirates Stadium and Highbury behind is amazing.

"I also have to thank the fans, you have always been special, and I always try to give my best, I know times it was not enough, but I always give it all out there on the field for you guys and the club.

"It is kind of weird to think of the amount of great players who have played for Arsenal, and for me to be right here, I have to say thanks to all of them, because I would not be able to be right there kneeling in front of this stadium, without them.

"Also, I must give a special thanks to my close friends....."

After taking a few moments to compose himself, Henry added: "I know some of the press used to kill me for not showing emotion - well, there you go, I am showing emotion for the club I love.

"Whatever I do, I do it with my heart, that is the way I am.

"It was not always easy to cope with the pressure of delivering, but from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Arsenal Football Club for giving me this opportunity to be here in front of this club I love - once a Gooner, always a Gooner.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart, but I played with some great players too and it would not have been possible without them."

Gunners boss Wenger had worked with Henry during their time at Monaco, and was instrumental in helping mould the French winger into one of the world's best players following his £11million move from Juventus in the summer of 1999.

Wenger hailed his former captain as the model professional.

"Thierry deserves the honour he gets today, and I am very proud to witness it," the Gunners boss said.

"His sensational career was down simply to Thierry's class. He is a player who had everything you dream of as a manager - physical potential, a technical level, super intelligence and what people also forget for many top level athletes, is he was dedicated to his job, with a very serious life.

"He is simply a model (professional) who won everything you can in our world - Thierry, you were really special."

PA

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