Allez Thierry! Allez!

Ibrahim Ba joined A.C. Milan in in 1997. He, like Gianluigi Lentini before him, was a bust at San Siro. Lentini joined Milan from Torino for the then massive fee of £13m. He never justified the fee. Ba would run tirelessly up and down the wing for the entire 90 minutes but provided very few positive moments for the Rossoneri. He would play a total of 56 matches for Milan, scoring just a single goal.

When I first saw Thierry Henry play for France, I thought I was watching another Ibrahim Ba. He was a pacy player stationed on the right side of midfield. Henry however was skillful but also raw and he too provided very few moments to convince me that he could bring much to the cause.

Fast forward to October 19, 2005 – by then, Thierry Had become Arsenal’s all-time leading goal scorer. No small feat. Mind, there’d been a potentially confidence shattering stop at Juventus on his way to North London. That Henry never received the World Player of the Year award is not a big deal to me. I watched him every week and have always known that he truly was the best player on the planet. And when you finish 2nd for that award in consecutive years, that kind of consistency says more about you than how much better the players who won it really were.

His move to Arsenal was instrumental in transforming the speedy winger without much end product into the world’s best player. Later today, Thierry Henry will attempt to capture the elusive Champions League medal that is one of the very, very few prizes missing from his collection. One that he couldn’t bring to North London. One whose absence from his C.V. that tools like Tommy Smyth have used to label the player as “not a big game player”. It will be well deserved and fitting climax to a wonderful season for the Blaugrana. It will be a fine resurgence to what seemed a waning though prolific career.

I have no dog in the fight when Manchester United face Barcelona in Rome but there will be players lining up whom I like and one or two I actually covet. Little Iniesta reminds me of Alain Giresse – the perfect foil – and Messi is a player who any neutral would pay to see. Rooney is not just the English bulldog but he can mix it with any of the super technical players who will grace the Stadio Olimpico. It is Thierry Henry however who will be my player to watch. It is Thierry Henry who will be most joyful when Barcelona defeat the current holders. It is Thierry who will send millions of Gooners into rapture when he lifts that trophy and the Red Scum watch in defeat.

As I have said previously, it is good vs. evil.

Allez Thierry! Allez!


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