(image copyright: soccer-europe.com)
There's a magician that all of us Arsenal fans can't quite get enough of. His name is Thierry Henry. He's a ballet dancer, a sprinter, a gymnast and a wizard, and oh yes, he plays football. He's soft-spoken, articulate and intensely controversy-shy. On the pitch he waltzes past defenders and drifts into space to chip the ball into the net with the bare minimum of fuss. After the departure of the commanding presence of Patrick Vieira, Henry accepted the Captain's armband and did a splendid job of marshalling the young, injury-stricken, inexperienced Arsenal squad and fashioned their resurgence in the latter half of this season.
Off the pitch he's a quiet, unassuming, family man and try as they might, the English gutter-press for all their resourcefulness and fourberie, have not been able to come up with a single scandal of worth involving arguably, one of the all-time greats of the English Premiership. His rise in the premiership, after a dismal stint with Seria A giants Juventus, has in no small measure been on account of the genius of Arsene Wenger, the French coach of Arsenal. Having given Henry his debut at the age of 17 in AS Monaco, Wenger plucked the despairing Henry out of Italy, where he was struggling to find his touch playing on the wing, and brought him to Arsenal in August 1999 for 10.5 million pounds. In every season since, Henry has justified the confidence placed in him by being the top-scorer for Arsenal (and the top scorer in the Premiership in four of them) and winning the hearts of the Highbury crowd.
At this crucial juncture, when Arsenal is set to move into the gleaming new 60,000 seater Emirates stadium at Ashburton Grove, every single Arsenal fan, in every corner of the world has only question in his mind, will Thierry stay? Every one of us wants those two minutes to speak with him, to explain to him how essential it is that he stay; how the rotation of the earth, the evolution of the species and the fight against global warming are all entirely dependant on his staying back at Arsenal FC; how
unbelievably important it is that he stay at our theater and he perform our brand of ballet to dazzle the world and bring tears of joy to our eyes; how crucial it is that we have his leadership so that the dazzling young talents like Fabregas, Hleb, Flamini, Toure, Eboue and Walcott are not left orphaned.
But Henry has served Arsenal magnificently. With goals, with crosses, with those glorious touches and that unforgettable finger to his lips; with his loyalty, his dedication and his guts and his blood. No Arsenal fan will grudge him what his heart desires. Like an estranged lover who has given his all, and to whom the debt of gratitude we owe is too large to bear thinking, we must let him do whatever makes him happy. We would wish him well, and we would wish him the glory and the success and the happiness that he so richly deserves, at whichever club he chooses to achieve them at.
We still wish he'd stay.