Alright, so he’s 34 and well past his best, and probably won’t even play that many games over the two months he will be with us, but still…
I’ve been lucky enough to have been present at some of Titi’s greatest moments in an Arsenal shirt: I was in the North Bank when he scored his first hatrick, against Leicester City on Boxing Day 2000, and I was in the Bernabeu, amongst all the Real fans, when he scored that solo goal. I was also in the North Stand when he nabbed a brace against Man City in a 5-0 rout, in the West Stand when he came off the bench to score the winner against Ipswich, and at Maine Road when he inspired a 5-1 demolition of Citeh (and got on the scoresheet, naturally enough).
In short, so many of my most cherished memories of watching Arsenal are inextricably bound up with one player. Can you guess who it is yet?
So you can imagine my happiness now that he’s back in the Red & White, ready to add to the 226 goals he has scored for club since first joining in 1999. I know there may have been technically better footballers, or statistically more effective players, or even more successful individuals in terms of medals and trophies… but for me, in my experience of watching football almost religiously for almost 18 years now, Thierry is the greatest player I have ever seen.
And I can’t wait to see him again.
Welcome back, Monsieur Va-Va-Voom!
Solidarity brothers & sisters…★
P.S. My favourite Thierry goals? Well since you asked so nicely…
5. versus Manchester United, Highbury, 2000/2001
Watched with a good few United supporters in Nancy Hands. Marvellous flick, turn & volley, all in one movement.
4. versus Roma, Stadio Olimpico, 2002/2003
The ITV commentary sums it up; “It’s a hattrick! A brilliant, Champions League hattrick!” From 1-0 down to 3-1 up. All TH14. All magnifique.
3. versus Manchester United, Ashburton Grove, 2006/2007
Watching with my bruv and two United fans in The Vat House. Last-minute winner. And who says that Henry never headed goals? Morons, that’s who! Just beautiful.
2. versus Inter Milan, San Siro, 2003/2004
The first goal was a better team goal, a good passing move down the left-wing and a nice slotted finish, but the second…that one was pure Thierry class. Sprint forward, hold the ball up, dummy the defender (no slouch, veteran quality player Zanetti) and hammer the ball home. With the weaker foot. Amazing.
1. versus Real Madrid, Santiago Bernabeu, 2005/2006
My 21st birthday, on the 21st of February 2006. A game which every Gooner we spoke to beforehand hoped would, at best, end up a one-goal defeat. One of Arsenal’s greatest performances, capped with one of Arsenal’s greatest goals scored by one of Arsenal’s greatest players. Decent present for me birthday I guess.
*Apologies for this blatantly self-indulgent blog post, normal service will resume whenever the hell I feel like it