Byline: STEVE STAMMERS
THIERRY HENRY would be acknowledged as a truly great striker, whether or not he ended up as Arsenal's record goalscorer. But his place in Highbury folklore will be sealed forever when he nets his next two goals.
Another strike will take him to 185 for Arsenal, equalling Ian Wright's record that has stood for eight years.
A second goal will set a landmark that could stand for as long as Cliff Bastin's 50-year record.
His next chance to break the record comes against Middlesbrough tomorrow. It is a feat his manager Arsene Wenger and teammate Dennis Bergkamp never thought possible.
Wenger said: "When I bought him, I just wanted him to be successful. I had no idea that one day he would be in this position, so close to the record."
Bergkamp said: "I never thought the day would come when Ian's record would be beaten."
When Henry joined Arsenal for [pounds sterling]9million from Juventus in 1999, Wenger took the crucial decision to convert him from a winger to a striker, A game at Liverpool was his first in the new role. Arsenal lost and Henry was substituted at halftime. "I was taken off because I was rubbish," he said.
Some still claim that Henry fails too often to turn up for the pressure games but his goal for France against Ireland in midweek was his 28th in 69 internationals - evidence he can do it at the highest level.
Wenger said: "If anything, he has been a victim of his own success. If he plays now and doesn't score, people say: 'Where was Thierry Henry today?' But for me he is valuable because even if he doesn't score he provides so many assists for others to score. With some strikers, if they don't score, you ask what else they are going to give. You don't need to ask that of Thierry."
Wenger points to the match against Liverpool on Good Friday of 2004 to illustrate his point. "In the two previous games we had lost in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United and in the Champions League …