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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May, 19, 2006

Henry finally pledges his future to Arsenal

Thierry Henry has revealed his intention to finish his career at Arsenal after agreeing a new four-year deal with the club.

The 28-year-old Gunners captain, who was in the last year of his former deal, has announced his intention to remain with the north London club instead of moving to Barcelona, who were linked with signing the France international.

He will now lead the team into a new chapter in their illustrious history as they move into their 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium for the start of next season.

'I've never played in Spain and I never will,' Henry said. 'I've played in France and Italy but this is the best country to play football and this is my last contract.

'I enjoy playing away or at home, getting stick. It's the passion I like. Here you can do your job in the right way - people here respect the player.'

Henry has claimed the spirit shown by his team-mates in Wednesday's Champions League final defeat against Barcelona in Paris had helped him decide to stay.

He also said vice-chairman David Dein and manager Arsene Wenger had played a huge role in persuading him not to leave, as well as the response from Gunners fans since his arrival in 1999.

He said: 'I think you all know, it's not a surprise but I'm staying here to play even longer for the club I love.

'It's been amazing since I joined, there had been so much speculation about me leaving - I won't lie, it crossed my mind. But I think with my heart and it told me to stay.'

Henry paid tribute to Dein and Wenger, telling a press conference televised live by Sky Sports News: 'Without them I wouldn't be talking to you. I just want to carry on writing the story of Arsenal with them.'

Henry carried Arsenal to the Champions League final, and the fans in Paris and during the campaign played a role in making him stay.

'In the past year the fans have been more than amazing,' he added.

'After the way we lost on Wednesday, I couldn't let them down. It was another thing to add and a positive thing to make me stay.

'I always refer to Arsenal as my home town. I have been welcomed with open arms, the love I receive here - sometimes from non-Arsenal fans - is something I can't forget about.'

Henry added: 'It is more than amazing for me. I said to the boss after the game on Wednesday that one of the most important things was what the team showed me. We can be so proud of what we did.

'The game reassured me of one thing I wanted to know - how far I can go with that team. They showed me they are a team with heart and lots of quality. I know we lost but I think you saw that quality, too.

'I said it [my decision] would come before the World Cup. I said I wanted to concentrate on pegging Tottenham back for fourth spot and then the Champions League final. After that was done I was very quick to make up my mind.

'I told the boss I wanted to stay. That was an important thing for me. There are so many things about why I decided to stay. Mr Dein, Arsene, the club, the fans, I just thought I could not left them down.

'I want to play Champions League football even more after what happened on Wednesday.'

Wenger believes keeping Henry long term is `basically an insurance for the future' of his young side.

'The team went through thick and thin this year but they have shown resilience and finished very strongly,' said Wenger.

'I believe this season has created a special bond inside the team and there is much more to come.

'Wednesday night reinforced that feeling among the players and if you want to continue that progression it would rely on Thierry's decision,' added the Gunners boss.

'You cannot say this team will go much higher if you lose your best player. Therefore for the progression of this team it was vital to get this kind of response from Thierry.

'It is basically an insurance for the future.'

Wenger insists he never put pressure on his captain to remain with Arsenal.

'He was at the age where you could understand him going through that state of mind. I tried just to tell him I want him to stay.

'On the other hand I never tried to put any pressure on him, I wanted him to make up his mind freely and voluntarily but I was confident that in the end if the team can show him (Henry) they can perform and compete with the best team in Europe we can keep him.'

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