Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Henry Lifts Gloom of Defeat by Staying on; Now the Stage Is Set for a True Great to Give Us His Masterpiece

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Henry Lifts Gloom of Defeat by Staying on; Now the Stage Is Set for a True Great to Give Us His Masterpiece

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

THE news that Thierry Henry has said he will reject a move to Barcelona and stay at Arsenal should delight any true football fan. There is an argument to say that Henry in full cry has been the most warming sight in the English game since George Best was weaving his wonders.

He has, uniquely, recently been awarded the Footballer of the Year award for the third time. When you think that the two-time winners were Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews, Danny Blanchf lower, Kenny Dalglish, Gary Lineker and John Barnes, how extraordinary to see a French boy who came to London as a Juventus reject and lost winger eclipsing these islands' greatest footballing icons.

Many thought that he would leave to seek his European success with Barcelona or Inter Milan. Even heavyweights such as Ruud Gullit suggested that the time had come for him to progress by leaving England.

But today he gave Arsenal fans still reeling from Wednesday's defeat in the European Cup Final reason to beam with joy and anticipate with renewed hope the start of the season at their brilliant new stadium.

Henry was spending today tying up the fine details of his [pounds sterling]120,000-aweek, four-year deal but his decision to stay was charged with emotion.

On the plane back from Paris in the early hours of Thursday morning, he went on the plane's intercom to issue a heartfelt statement to the fans vowing that: "We will take this on the chin and come back even better. Hopefully we will be back in the final."

The use of the word "we" lifted the spirits of all on the flight and Henry confirmed this morning in his Sun newspaper column that he will be staying.

He said: "I hope to stay for as long as I can keep running. I could not face leaving the fans. They are like my family."

Henry had previously said he would make a decision before the World Cup but the team's valiant display in the Final after goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off appears to have brought a swift conclusion to the saga. …

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