Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Amazing Night That MAY SWAY THIERRY; A Display to Remind Henry There Is No Place like Home Real Madrid 0 Arsenal 1

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Amazing Night That MAY SWAY THIERRY; A Display to Remind Henry There Is No Place like Home Real Madrid 0 Arsenal 1

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

ONE BY ONE, Real Madrid ' s superstars trooped by forlornly here at the Bernabeu, mainly left unmolested because no one fancied intruding on personal grief. So who was that starry Galactico holding court to a media scrum hanging on his every utterance?

Here's a clue; he wasn't wearing a white shirt.

Being his familiar impeccably modest self, Thierry Henry was naturally deflecting all the credit from himself for what must be seen as one of the most splendid - and wholly unlikely - victories in Arsenal's grand history, a triumph for solidarity, courage and skill from a side studded with youngsters and understudies over a bunch of dazzling individuals who seemed incapable of gelling as a team.

Yet you could just sense Real Madrid's president Florentino Perez up in his VIP eyrie already experiencing that irresistible itch he has to reach for his chequebook whenever he espies something which takes his fancy. "Adios, Ronaldo", he was doubtless thinking. "A quick word, Thierry?"

Of course, the irony of Henry having clinched the first win by any English club at the Bernabeu with a goal of exquisite quality and a true captain's innings was that he's now going to be even more coveted in the Spanish summer sales. Which is why Arsene Wenger felt this must be the moment to remind the priceless one there's no place like home.

"I hope the quality our young team showed will persuade Thierry to stay because it's important with this growing team that the leader is with them," said Wenger. "You don't want to have to take a few steps back because maybe your best player leaves. I hope it convinces him that he has a future at the club with results like this which the young boys can produce."

If Wenger was expecting this plea to be met with an immediate declaration of undying fidelity, no luck. "Tonight all we need to talk about is what we've done as a team and talk about the youngsters," shrugged Henry, sidestepping the question about whether it had been the sort of night to convince him to stay.

Though he kept protesting it did not feel like one of his greatest achievementsfor Arsenal simply because it was still only halftime - and he's surely right to believe Real couldn't be quite so sluggish and fragmented at Highbury a fortnight hence - his genuine enthusiasm for what felt suspiciously like a coming of age party could only have been music to Wenger.

"You know, it was a pretty amazing effort," beamed Henry. "[Mathieu] Flamini is not a left-back but was fantastic, [Emmanuel] Eboue is really inexperienced but played great, Freddie [Ljungberg] was running everywhere non-stop, [Cesc] Fabregas was tremendous." He could have gone on.

Because, as Wenger said, every single one was outstanding.

Not least the king himself. …

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