Thierry Henry has hailed Arsene Wenger as the architect of his career as the pair prepare to face each other for the first time since the striker joined Barcelona three years ago.
Wenger worked with a teenage Henry at Monaco before the now Arsenal boss left the French club in 1994. But the coach did not forget, and shelled out £10million to take the winger from Juventus to north London in 1999.
Henry was transformed from a tricky wide man into a potent striker, scoring 226 goals in 369 games for the Gunners, which caught the eye of the Catalans.
'I began with him,' said Henry. 'He gave me my debut when I was only 17 years old and we were reunited later in London.
'Heshowed great trust in me. I have a special relationship with him and hehas done so much for me. Without him, I don't know what would havehappened.
'Right now Arsenal and Barca are the two teams trying to play football. He has changed the way the team play, and won titles. For me, he will always be the best coach in the club's history.'
Flashback: Wenger watches over Henry in Arsenal training
Henry still calls Arsenal home following eight seasons in north London and the Champions League quarter-final clash is the draw he was dreading, but there will be no divided loyalties.
'It will be different because I spent seven years playing at Highbury and only one at the Emirates,' he said. 'But seeing people, seeing the fans, to see the club employees, it will be all very strange.
'People can understand that. If I have to play, I will give my all, just like I always do.
'I know that we are playing in a Champions League match, it is a quarter-final, and I know that it is very important for Los Cules to get to the final this year and, if possible, win it.
'For Los Cules it is a dream to go to Madrid. For me it is strange to meet Arsenal along the way, but that's football.'
Glory: Henry celebrates winning the European Cup against Manchester United last summer, with team-mates Lionel Messi (left) and Sylvinho, plus boss Pep Guardiola
Henry continued his goalscoring form on moving to the Nou Camp, though he has again returned to the flank as an advanced left winger.
The 32-year-old hit 26 goals as Barca won every competition they entered last season, though a dip in form and just three goals in 23 appearances is expected to see him leave for the New York Red Bulls in the summer.
However, he is likely to start at the Emirates and warns that his successor as Arsenal captain, Cesc Fabregas, could haunt a Barca side where he developed.
'If you talk about Arsenal, you have to talk about Cesc,' said Henry. 'But I'm not surprised with what he has done.
'I played with him and I know what he can do. The people at Barca also know it. He is very intelligent and already has a lot of years playing regularly.'
Barca-roamer: Messi (left) has been in fine form
Then again, Barcelona are not short of their own match-winners, with World Player of the Year Lionel Messi continuing to amaze his team-mates.
'I have played alongside some great players, but Leo is very special,' said Henry. 'It's very difficult to find another player who does what he does.
'The other day I put my hands on my head because I didn't know what to do. I've had lots of messages asking me if Leo is human. Sometimes I wonder. It's not normal what he does, and we have to enjoy it.'
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