Milestone is so special for Henry

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At Portsmouth's training ground on Thursday, a row of players stopping munching on their chicken salad as the nominations were announced for the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year. They sat watching Sky Sports News as the names were reeled off - Gerrard, Lampard, Okocha... Henry.

"Ah," said Eyal Berkovic, suddenly animated. "Henry will win that. Unbelievable. He is un-bel-iev-able." No one demurred. For the fourth year, from the five he has been in England, Henry was on the shortlist. For the second year running he should win. At least one Arsenal player, it seems, will land a double this season. And he is still only 26.

Apparently the Highbury squad, en masse, delivered their votes to Chelsea's Frank Lampard. It would not be a surprise had every other Premiership club - OK, Manchester United excepted - similarly agreed a block decision for Henry. Records tumble at his feet as easily as opponents.

Indeed, in scoring the third of his four goals against Leeds United on Friday the Frenchman became the first Arsenal player to achieve back-to-back hat-tricks at Highbury since 1951 (Doug Lishman). In delivering his final goal he became the first since Ian Wright in 1991 to score four goals for Arsenal.

More momentously, Henry is now closing in on Wright's all-time record - 185 goals (288 games) - as the club's leading scorer. He reached 150 (250 appearances; 25 as substitute) in the rout of Leeds, lifting him above John Radford.

Despite his laid-back demeanour, it is the sort of landmark Henry is only too aware of. "It's pretty special, I can't say it isn't," he smiled in the players' tunnel after the match. "It means a lot for me, it means loyalty to the club, because when you have scored 150 goals you have been there for a long time.

"For me it is important. I love Arsenal and will always do my best for them. That's what I try to do on the pitch, and if some people appreciate what I'm doing at the moment it's fine - if not, I can't do more and I can't do less."

Unsurprisingly, Wright has been in touch. "It's quite funny, because sometimes I see Wrighty and we have a laugh about it," Henry said. "A lot of people are asking me about his record because I am getting closer, but when I first arrived here I didn't even think about it.

"More and more, people are talking about it and I'm thinking about it sometimes, because it is something. If you ever beat Wrighty it's something unbelievable. Maybe one day it will happen, I don't know if it will, but at the moment I'm pretty pleased with what is happening. To be already third on the list is something I would not have thought about when I first arrived. Anything that happens in my life right now is a plus, and I'm just trying to add the pluses."

For Henry it is a momentary lapse into the personal. And why not? Only Wright and Cliff Bastin (178 goals; 395 games) stand in his way. All the records will soon fall, even if at a ratio of 0.6 goals a game his ratio is a little short of Wright's (0.64). But given the rate at which Henry is now scoring goals, that may change as well.

With five games left he can certainly also beat Ted Drake's record of being the Arsenal player to score the most in one season, 42. Henry now has 38. Given that he is also the leading player, by far, with assists at Arsenal, the phenomenon just grows and grows. "And the best age starts now for him," said his manager, Arsène Wenger.

Henry shies away from such praise. "I am at the end of a team effort and, as a striker, that's my game, to be there on the end of things. And against Leeds I was there four times, and don't forget one of them was a penalty," he said.

For all his personal achievement Henry knows it is a season tinged with 'what ifs'. "It's better when you win things," he said of that elusive treble. "The only thing that matters is the team. I don't want to go to the end of the season without winning anything. That's why we keep focused, keep our feet on the ground and try to win something."

In saying that, he admits that Arsenal have - occasionally - lapsed. "Sometimes we maybe get carried away with the way we play, maybe thinking that we can get away with it. As we saw against Liverpool everyone was fighting for it, everyone was defending, everyone was attacking," Henry stated.

"That is the only thing that makes a difference. You can have the best player in the world, but if you don't have the commitment and desire you know you won't get that far." Maybe, in Henry, Arsenal have the lot right now.

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