Monday, June 25, 2007

My Favorite Player Leaves My Favorite Team

Thierry Henry in Paris
What do I do? Cry?

Do I really want to cry?

I mean, this is just business, right!

Thierry Henry is just a soccer player who is paid to entertain me. I do not know him, we do not work for the same organization, I have no professional relationship with him. I like his new employer, they are my favorite team in La Liga.

Ever since my addiction to soccer started, especially English football, six years ago, I have adored Thierry Henry. He was the star player on the team I adopted as my own: Arsenal.

Thierry Henry Celebrates
I am an Arsenal supporter. I will remain an Arsenal supporter. But I am a Thierry Henry fan, too. I will remain a Thierry Henry fan.

What impact does this have on my life? Not much, I think. I never purchased an Arsenal jersey with Henry's name on the back, because Arsenal uses Nike as their shirt provider, and I don't buy Nike products. Henry's new team, the Catalan side Barcelona, also use Nike as their shirt provider, so I will not even consider an Henry shirt from Barca, either. No sportswear loss.

My cable television subscription includes the Spanish-language GOL-TV, which carries La Liga matches, allowing me to watch Henry play with some of my other faves: Ronaldhino and Gio, in particular. Maybe I should switch to Direct-TV which broadcasts GOL-TV in English. That could be a huge pain in the ass! Switching television providers.

This is the first time I will have to explain to my 3-year-old daughter that our favorite player no longer plays for our favorite team. In my childhood, most sports players stayed with the same team for all or most of their careers. No longer, of course, but I haven't had to explain it to her yet. This could be more difficult than switching television providers!

Thierry Henry has left Arsenal.

It's like Larry Bird leaving the Celtics, or The Mick leaving the Yankees, or Gordie Howe leaving the Red Wings, or Joe Namath leaving the Jets, it just isn't supposed to happen; and today the universe seems just a little bit askew because of it.

Shevchenko, Rohnaldhino, and Henry
Arsenal announce Henry departure
Arsenal have confirmed they have reached an agreement with Barcelona for the transfer of striker Thierry Henry. The deal, thought to be worth about £16m to the Gunners, is subject to the Frenchman, 29, passing a medical, which is set to take place on Monday.

Henry had already announced he intended to end his eight-year stay at Arsenal to sign a four-year deal with Barca.

"I still must pass a medical on Monday but yes, I have chosen Barcelona," he told French sports daily L'Equipe.

Soriano added it was "the wish of all parties" for an agreement to be reached for the transfer of Henry.

He also insisted that Barcelona waited for the green light from Arsenal before making a move for the France international, who is the club's all-time record goalscorer.

"We don't want to point a gun at anybody," said Soriano. "We have good relationships with the European clubs."

Henry, who only agreed a lucrative new deal with Arsenal 12 months ago, also confirmed his exit in The Sun newspaper.

In an open letter, he blamed the shock departure of Gunners vice-chairman David Dein and continuing doubts over the future of manager Arsene Wenger as the main reasons for his decision to leave.

"Arsene has been part of my life for as long as I can remember," he wrote.

"Unfortunately and understandably, he has said that at this moment he will not commit to the club past the expiration of his current deal, which finishes at the end of the coming season.

"I respect his decision and his honesty but I will be 31 at the end of next season and I cannot take the chance to be there without Arsene Wenger and David Dein.

"This is solely my decision, no-one has forced me to do anything and I will represent myself in this transaction. I feel it is something I just had to do."

Henry, who has also been linked with European champions AC Milan, has also revealed why he decided to move to the Nou Camp ahead of other possible destinations.

"Barcelona are a wonderful club steeped in tradition and play beautiful football. I'm sure I will be very happy there," he continued.

"But I will miss the Arsenal fans dearly, they have supported me through thick and thin.

"They will always be in my heart, as will all the fans who make the game here so special. I will always have a special bond with Arsenal Football Club."

Henry began his career as a winger with Monaco in 1994 - under the supervision of current Arsenal boss Wenger.

He was in France's 1998 World Cup-winning squad and went on to join Juventus the following season.

But his time in Turin was a largely unsuccessful one and the player was soon heading to north London, with Wenger keen to get the best out of the prodigious talent.

The France international has since blossomed into one of the greatest talents in world football.

He helped Arsenal to two league titles and three FA Cups and led the Gunners to the finals of the 2000 Uefa Cup and 2006 Champions League.

In February 2006, he became the first Arsenal player to score over 200 goals for the club, with a strike against Birmingham, and has bagged a club record 226 goals in 364 appearances for the Gunners.

His consistency in front of goal ensured he finished as the Premier League's top scorer on four occasions.

He has won the Professional Footballers' Association player of the year title on two occasions and the football writers' player of the year three times. He has also twice finished runner-up in the Fifa world player of the year.

Story from BBC SPORT:
Click here for original post.
Published: 2007/06/23 09:41:17 GMT

AFP reports that Nicolas Anelka will be brought in at Arsenal to fill the void left by Henry's departure. If you are an American sports fan, then this is like Bill Buckner stepping-in for Lou Gehrig, or Mike Everett stepping in for Joe Montana, or any random Canadian skater stepping in for Bobby Orr. It is as comforting as knowing the snake under the bed isn't a very good climber. Anelka cannot do anything to replace the loss of Henry.

There has been speculation about Henry's departure (and possibly team manager Arsene Wegner's as well) since the April resignation of David Dein from Arsenal's front-office.

Fellow French player and former Gunner, Patrik Viera, stated last week that he believed Henry would remain a Gunner only if Arsenal made some world-class signings as proof-positive they were committed to winning at the European level.

Of course, the xeonphobic idiots who chased-away David Dein ignored Viera's remarks to the press and have sold-off one of the greatest players that ever donned the red kit at Highbury and Ashburton Grove.

In meeting the press, Henry said, "I want to be certain of where the club was going and reassured in a way. I wasn't and I have chosen to go. . . . I left Arsenal to go to Barcelona because, no disrespect to any other team, but there are only two teams in the world who play football the way I like it."

Looking directly into a camera, Henry thanked Gooners around the world for their support and said he would always be an Arsenal player.

"Arsenal will always be in my heart, my blood, my head," Henry said. "I will always have Arsenal in my blood. I know some people will never accept the decision. I just want to say to the fans that I always gave 100 per cent. . . . I said I was going to be a Gunner for life and I did not lie because when you are a Gunner, you will always be a Gunner."

And once a Gooner, always a Gooner. I will miss Henry and will remain an Arsenal supporter; but we have to get someone better than Anelka (whom we sold-off once already).

Monday sees Henry having his first team physical and that will be followed by his first step onto the pitch at Nou Camp as a Barcelona striker. See the FC Barcelona website here for details.

Barcelona now becomes the most amazing team in Europe, while Arsenal will struggle to remain in the England top four. The Frank Rijkaard led Barca includes Ronaldhino, Henry, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Samuel Eto'o, Deco, Silvinho and others. See their current squad here.

Congratulations, Barca supporters! You now have the best player in the world to play alongside the best player in the world. You suffer an embarrassment of riches.

Good luck, Thierry!

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