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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 21, 2006

Fit-again Henry hails 'unique' Wenger legacy

Thierry Henry claims beautiful football is the main legacy of Arsene Wenger's decade at the club.

Henry admits Wenger, who celebrates his 10th anniversary next week, has brought numerous qualities to the English game.

But he believes the transformation of 'boring, boring Arsenal' into a team who now command worldwide respect for their dashing style must be the French manager's greatest achievement.

Henry, 29, said: 'The way he sees the game and the way he wants his players to play. He is unique.

'It's like when you used to see Ajax, they had this tradition of passing the ball and that's what Arsene has brought here.

'We did win some ugly games like the FA Cup final against Manchester United - if that was a boxing match they would have stopped the game.

'But I still think that now we have an identity and people now recognise Arsenal by the way we play.

'Everybody has their own way. I don't know if `boring, boring Arsenal' was fair. They won some stuff too, even playing like that.

'But now we are winning stuff, playing like this. Arsene has changed the view people have of the club.

'When I walk in London or even abroad, people come up and say: `I'm not an Arsenal fan but I love to see you play'.

'That's because of Arsene and what's amazing with him, is that even when we didn't start the season well, he just said we have to stick to our game.'

Wenger, 56, is the most successful manager in Arsenal's history, winning seven major trophies with the club, including three league titles.

He took the club to the Champions League final last season but his greatest achievement on the pitch was to complete an entire league season unbeaten in 2003/04.

Henry said: 'He said we were going to go a season unbeaten but he said it a year too soon. Everybody laughed. I remember that so well.

'When we lost that first game everyone said: `Oh yeah?' but the year after we did it.

'He always says this kind of stuff and sometimes he's the only one who thinks like that and says it.

'Besides being a great person tactically and seeing good players he is a great human being.'

The Arsenal captain detects no signs that his manager is ready to retire from the game.

Henry said: 'I don't know if he can live without football. Thankfully for us that's just him. This is his life. When you go through all your active life, every morning training, every Saturday and Wednesday a game, you don't want to stop.'

Wenger gave Henry his first start in senior football when he was a teenager coming through the ranks at Monaco.

Then, in 1999, the Arsenal boss paid £11million to rescue him from Juventus where he was struggling to make an impact.

Wenger converted Henry from a winger into a striker and he went on to score more goals for the club than anyone else.

Henry feels personal gratitude for Wenger's influence on his own career and now, as Arsenal captain, he is considering how to mark the anniversary in the dressing room.

The French striker said: 'We need to do something special for him, like throw him under the shower after the game.

'Knowing Arsene he'll just say if we can win it'll make him happy.'

Henry is fit to return for Saturday's game at home to Sheffield United after missing two matches with a foot injury.

The Arsenal skipper said: 'It's better. I'm there to be picked.

'I made a mistake. I shouldn't have played against Boro. But we didn't start well this season so when I came back from the Italy game, I had an injection and I made it worse.'

He was also at pains to explain stories that he had criticised his team-mates, apparently telling them to stop relying on him all the time.

Henry said: 'The question was: `How do you deal with so many youngsters looking up at you?' I said `they shouldn't look at me to deliver. Nobody should look at anyone to deliver alone in the team'.

'I need them as much as they need me. It's a team effort, whoever you are, whatever you do.'

Robin van Persie also returns to contention with Henry for the visit of the Blades.

The Holland international sat out the win at Manchester United with a hip problem suffered against Hamburg.

Wenger told Arsenal TV Online: 'Thierry is available and we should have Robin van Persie back too.

'We have no big injuries from last week. The other ones like Philippe Senderos, (Abou) Diaby, Lauren and (Gael) Clichy are not back yet but Henry is and Van Persie should be.'

Theo Walcott is doubtful having picked up a shoulder injury in a reserve game against Portsmouth last night.

Henry joined former Arsenal keeper Bob Wilson at the Emirates Stadium today as the club unveiled Wilson's Willow Foundation as their nominated charity for the season.

Wilson and Henry both created pieces of 'Impact Art' blasting footballs through paint and onto a canvas.

The paintings will form part of an exhibition and then be auctioned.

The Willow Foundation, set up by Wilson and his wife Megs when they lost their daughter Anna to cancer in 1999, arranges special days out for people, aged 16 to 40, living with life-threatening illnesses.