Having announced his retirement from football and his move into the media with a job at Sky Sports, the latest in our Thierry Henry series brings you some little known facts about Arsenal’s record goalscorer.
We all know the stats, the figures, the main events, but what about those bits that aren’t so well known? Here we go.
1 – After moving to Juventus, Henry was having a hard time adjusting to Italian football. Four months into his tenure there he met Arsene Wenger on a flight to Paris and told his former Monaco boss he’d love to join him at the Gunners. When Nicolas Anelka was sold to Real Madrid in the summer of 1999, Wenger remembered that conversation and paid the Italian side £10m for his protege. It worked out quite well.
2 – On his arrival at Arsenal he found himself welcomed to proceedings in his first training session by Martin Keown who thundered through the back of him in typical Keown style. When Henry remonstrated, Keown just held a ‘Shhhhh’ finger to his lips and said, “You’re my wife now, Dave.”
3 – Danny Mills was so upset by Henry nutmegging him at Highbury that he wrote the Frenchman a letter, on headed paper expressing his pain and dismay. Henry just laughed before showing it to everyone.
4 – Rumours of a poor relationship with Jose Antonio Reyes abounded as the young Spaniard struggled to adapt to life in England and English football in general. However, after he’d been kicked around the Old Trafford pitch by the Neville brothers, Henry stuck up for his teammate by cornering Phil Neville in the tunnel and giving him a Chinese burn which took three weeks to heal, before threatening a fleeing Gary with a wedgie he’d never forget.
5 – Before he moved to Barcelona in 2007, Henry had been relentlessly pursued by an infatuated Joan Laporta, then President of the Catalan club. As an attempt to lure him to La Liga, Laporta had a local artist, Jordi L’aforj, paint a portrait of the Arsenal striker astride a massive horse galloping down Passeig de Gracia carrying a pig’s head (a nod to the Barcelona fans ‘tribute’ to Luis Figo).
Henry gave the painting to kit-man Vic Akers who, in turn, donated it to an Oxfam shop.
6 – Despite Arsene Wenger’s insistence on a balanced, plain diet, Henry would munch his way through half a packet of Jelly Babies before each game. He always bit the head off first.
7 – The threesome of Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Robert Pires were the undisputed kings of London’s underground French dancing scene, but their cool reputation was often damaged by Sylvain Wiltord who, according to Vieira, “Danced like Elaine from Seinfeld.” A falling out between Wiltord and the rest over a near fatal ‘Perpignan Shuffle’ incident led to his departure from the club in 2004.
8 – One night Thierry Henry was out for a walk during his summer holidays and he encountered an angry bear who could easily have torn him to shreds. Instead, he put his hands on his hips, raised an eyebrow and gave him the patented Henry scowl before saying “Go home bear” and at first the bear moved to go home but then he came back and he and Thierry became friends and he called the bear ‘Constable’ after his favourite painter and his second favourite rank of police officer.
9 – It’s well known that he would often phone up journalists to challenge them on things they had written about him, but very few people know that when he saw the fourth Indiana Jones movie he called up George Lucas and said, “What have you done? What have you done?”.
Lucas, literally, had no answer and hung up.
10 – At night, Thierry’s statue outside the Emirates comes to life and moves faster than the eye can see around the streets of London. Eventually it will find what it’s looking for – the house of a Sp*rs fan. It will ring the doorbell, then assume position so when the Sp*rs fan opens the door or looks out his bedroom window he’s greeted with the sight of Henry celebrating that goal.
He then winks and returns to his plinth before anyone notices he’s missing.