18 September 1999: Thierry Henry came on as a sub scored his first goal for Arsenal



Apologies for the late publication of this article

18 September 1999: As a result of Henry’s first goal, scored after coming on as a late sub, Arsenal beat Southampton 1-0.

He received the ball from Adams, with his back to goal, 20 yards out, turned and shot.  Henry said, “My goal today was very important for me. I have missed at least 14 or 15 chances for Arsenal and my confidence was low.”  It was Arsenal’s last appearance at the Dell.

However Henry didn’t score again until 28 November when he got both goals in a 2-1 defeat of Derby.

The story is that while Henry was playing in Italy he spoke on the phone regularly to Mr Wenger when Wenger was working in Japan, and that contact paid off for on 3 August 1999 he came to Arsenal.  £11m he cost.  Within a season he was worth more than double that.

By 2002 he had won us the Double.  In 2002/3 he scored 32 goals in all competitions.   In October 2005 he broken Wright’s goal record – Ian Wright came onto the pitch before the game and stood in the centre circle to embrace Henry, but then had to wait there for several minutes because Arsenal weren’t ready to come out.  I think Wright ended up doing a little dance to pass the time of day.

It all seemed to have ended on 25 June 2007 when Thierry went to Barcelona for €24 million – but that was not the end of the story because of the process in which at the time Arsenal sold top players to foreign teams for huge amounts of money, and virtually every time the foreign team didn’t get that much out of it, while Arsenal re-invested the money in younger talent.  You’d think other teams would have learned by now, but apparently not.

Henry played 80 games in the two-team league that is Spanish football; his salary was reported £4.6m per season.  He was there for 3 years and the total cost to Barca was £35.8m including transfer fees.  His goal account dropped to 0.43 per game from the 0.69 he had at Arsenal over a much higher number of games.  The cost to Barca was thus £447,000 per game, and considering that a number of these games were as sub, it doesn’t look like a great deal for them. Amazingly he was nonetheless their top scorer in one of those three seasons!

In July 2010, Thierry went to New York and on 6 January 2012 he signed for Arsenal to cover for forwards who were playing in Africa.  He came on against Leeds as a sub, and scored a typical perfect Henry goal.  It was one of those “I was there!” moments that stays forever.  And ever.

In his last game he came on and scored the winner against Sunderland on 17 Feb 2012.

Quite a guy.

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