On This Day In 1999, Arsenal Signed The Great Thierry Henry
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On This Day In 1999, Arsenal Signed The Great Thierry Henry

It was August 3, 1999, and Arsene Wenger couldn't contain his joy. Wenger had previously worked with Thierry Henry when he was the manager of Monaco, and a sum of £11 million had been enough to persuade Juventus to part with him.

The 22-year-old's hopes were high, but even his management couldn't have predicted the enormous influence Henry would have.

"He is a young international striker who will be a great asset to Arsenal Football Club,” Wenger said of his compatriot.

“He has good experience of both club and international football and will considerably strengthen our firepower. Thierry is much more of an extrovert than Nicolas [Anelka] was. He is a team player who will work hard for the whole team.

"He has a good spirit and a good mentality for a young player and he has gained a lot of experience already at international level. He gives you a lot of options. He can play wide or in the center and makes anything possible when he has the ball.

"Thierry has pace, power, and great dribbling. I would like to move him into the center either as the second striker or the main target man."

That last element will be crucial. Prior to joining Arsenal, Henry had struggled to make an impact when playing on the flank for Juventus; the kid scored just three goals in 19 games across all competitions during his brief stay in Italy, but Wenger envisioned a totally different future for him from the outset.

The impact was not immediate.

In his first few months in the Premier League, Henry struggled, prompting some to dismiss him as a waste of money. Although his first 17 games yielded only two goals, the World Cup winner gradually adjusted to his new role and, by the end of his rookie season, he had scored 26 goals in all competitions.

Henry didn't look back after that. In 2000/01, Arsenal scored 22 more goals, and the following season, Arsenal scored 32 goals as they won the Premier League and FA Cup double.

Henry scored the same number of goals in both 2002/03 and 2003/04, before reaching his best in the Invincibles season of 2003/04, when he made the net ripple 39 times in four tournaments.

Henry had scored 228 goals by the time he departed North London for Barcelona in 2007, becoming the club's all-time leading scorer.

He is also widely regarded as Arsenal's greatest ever player. When Henry first arrived 18 years ago today, there was little fuss, but his place in history — and in the hearts of every Gunners fan who had the good fortune to witness him play - is secure for all time.

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