When you win the Premier League Golden Boot four times, you’re always going to be up there. That was the case with Thierry Henry, and is one of many reasons why he is the best player the Premier League has ever seen. Ice cool with an inimitable swagger, the left wing-back turn striker really was incredible.
Thierry Henry – The Juve Transition
An unfortunate victim of Juventus’ Catenaccio football, Henry was utilised at left wing-back in a defensive five during his stint at the Italian colossus in 1999. His time under a certain Arsene Wenger at Monaco had earned him the move, but it just wasn’t to be.
“But boss, I’m a winger”Thierry Henry was shifted out wide from early and thought he belonged on the flanks. He was wrong.
When a low in confidence Thierry Henry rocked up in North London for a fee reported to be around £11m, it’s fair to say it was not received well. The timid 21-year-old was seen as massively overpriced for the market at the time and his opening performances helped him little in way of persuasion.
A grainy image at St Mary’s. A 1-0 away win for Arsenal, courtesy of Thierry Henry. It took him till September to get his first goal, but the Frenchman was looking better and better. 17 goals in either of his first two seasons saw a decent return, but the jump came in the 2001/02 season…
24 goals in 33 Premier League appearances, the Golden Boot and a Premier League title won at Old Trafford. Thierry Henry was on fire and it only continued.
Rip-roaring in the 2002/03 season, the Monaco youth product had scored 32 goals and conjured up an astounding 28 assists in 55 games. 20 of which were in the Premier League, a record held still to this day. A gentle reminder, he was a striker! The composure he developed, that trademark side-foot into the corner, Henry was without doubt the best player in world football at the time.
Apart from he wasn’t. Pavel Nedved beat him to the Ballon d’Or in what can only go down as the biggest robbery in football history. Worse than Luka Modric’s win in 2018 Nedved was a top, top player, but nine goals, two assists in 29 Serie A games. Crikey.
“For me, Thierry Henry is the best player in the world now.“Pavel Nedved, Ballon d’Or winner. Says it all.
Henry had to shake if off, for he was in the midst of an unbeaten campaign that would go down in history. 49 Premier League games without a loss. Magnificent. Goals, goals and more goals, not to mention 74 assists in his Premier League career. You spearhead a side like that, there’s no way you aren’t a contender. He would draw something from nothing. When the game was in the balance, Titi would turn the tide. The Champions League final against Barcelona was a real low point and broke him, but he had been one the best players in the world for three years, and the best in the Premier League for longer.
Greatness recognising greatness
He drew plaudits from every player imaginable. Zidane said he was, technically, the best player he’d ever seen, Carragher said it was like facing a motorbike and even Messi was scared to look at him. Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player of all time, was scared to look at the France international in the face. Let that sink in.
There have been some remarkable talents in the Premier League over the years. Cristiano Ronaldo is most certainly up there. But he didn’t stay long enough to make it to the top of my list.
He was the most efficient player, the best to watch and he has the stats to back him up. Thierry Henry is the greatest Premier League player of all time. I’ll take challengers in the comments. Keep it civil though!
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