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Henry stunned by Arsenal statue tribute
Published : 09 Dec 2011 17:46:55
Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry was overcome with emotion after seeing a statue of himself unveiled outside the Emirates Stadium here on Friday as part of the club's 125th anniversary celebrations.
Statues of Tony Adams, who twice captained Arsene Wenger's men to the domestic league and FA Cup double, as well as Herbert Chapman, Arsenal's successful manager of the 1920s and 1930s, were set alongside those of Henry.
Henry, who scored a club record 226 goals during his time with Arsenal and helped the club win two Premier League titles and two FA Cups, left the north London side for Barcelona in 2007.
He won the Champions League with the Spanish giants before moving to the United States and Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls.
But the 34-year-old former France striker, the bulk of whose Arsenal career was played out at the club's nearby former home at Highbury, insisted the Gunners were still his side.
"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.
"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....."
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."
Wenger, who nurtured Henry's career at Monaco before helping him become one of the world's leading players following his Â£11million move from Italian giants Juventus in 1999, praised his fellow Frenchman as a model professional.
"Thierry deserves the honour he gets today, and I am very proud to witness it," the Arsenal manager 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."