Arsenal’s Century Club – Joe Baker

May 21, 2019

Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Joe Baker sits at number 6

Joseph Henry Baker (17 July 1940 – 6 October 2003) was born in Woolton in Liverpool, England however he spent virtually his entire childhood growing up in Motherwell, Scotland.  Joe Baker’s mother was Scottish. His father was also born in Woolton and was a sailor; while living in New York in 1938, Joe’s elder brother, Gerry, was born. Early on in the Second World War the family returned from the United States to their hometown Liverpool as Joe’s father George felt he had to enlist and do his bit to help with the war effort and follow the example of his four brothers who were all serving in the British navy.

Joe and Gerry with Torino team mate Denis Law

Liverpool became a prime target for the Luftwaffe. After London it was the second most important port with the docks being heavily blitzed with 4,000 people losing their lives. Joe’s mother Lizzie wasn’t going to let her boys become victims and the family moved up to Wilshaw just outside Motherwell in Scotland to stay with Joe’s grandmother to escape the bombing when Joe was just six weeks old.

In 1944 George’s ship was blown up when returning home across the English Channel. Ironically it was a British mine that blew it up. George was one of the few survivors but was badly injured and had a lump of shrapnel in his stomach. He also lost his bladder and was constantly in and out of hospital over the next four years before finally succumbing to his injuries and losing his battle for life.

Joe, who was a centre forward, spent a month on trial with Chelsea as a youngster, but was not signed. However he signed professional terms with Hibernian after playing junior football for local Coltness United, and was then farmed out to another junior team, Armadale Thistle. In his first season with Hibs, the 17-year-old Baker scored all four goals in Hibs’ 4–3 victory over city rivals Hearts in the quarter-final of the 1958 Scottish Cup. Baker played in the 1958 Scottish Cup Final, which Hibs lost 1–0 to Clyde. He also scored nine goals in a Scottish Cup tie against Peebles Rovers. Baker was Hibs’ top goal scorer for four consecutive seasons, scoring a club record 42 goals in 33 league games during the 1959–60 season. He scored 102 goals in just 117 league games and 159 goals in all competitions for the Edinburgh club.

In 1961, Baker was transferred to Torino after the Hibs board refused to give him a £5 wage increase from his existing wage of £12 a week. Torino paid £75,000 for him and he shared a flat in the city with fellow new boy, Denis Law. He began well, scoring twice on his home debut, though his proudest achievement was definitely bagging the winner against Juventus in the Turin derby. It endeared him to fans, but his fondness for nightclubs brought unwanted attention from paparazzi and in one argument with a photographer, the snapper ended up in a Venetian lake.

His time at the Italian club was short and almost ended in tragedy. Baker was involved in a serious car crash, which meant that he needed life-saving surgery and spent over a month on a drip feed. It was a generally unhappy spell as Baker did not like the press intrusion, which meant that he and team mate Denis Law spent most of their time in their Turin apartment.

Joe with Billy Wright at Highbury

Baker recovered from his injuries and he returned to the UK in July 1962, joining Billy Wright’s Arsenal who; following a string of intense medical tests paid a club record £70,000 for the 22-year-old.

It was at Arsenal where he regained the prolific form which had initially earned him a move abroad. Strong, skilful and quick, Baker was deadly in the box and scored on his debut against Leyton Orient and finished as top scorer in all four of his seasons. Having been used to the tight marking of Italian defenders, all of a sudden he had space to play and he certainly made it count by scoring 100 goals in 156 games for the Gunners.

At 5ft 7in, he was a fearless striker, who in addition to goals, made sure his opponents knew he was not to be messed with. Liverpool’s 6ft 2in Ron Yeats found that out when he was floored by Baker during a game at Highbury, which saw both players sent off.

Frank McLintock said this about him “Joe Baker was a phenomenal player. He was all you could want in a goal scorer – equally adept with both feet and with the sort of pace Ian Rush later used to such advantage. I love players like Joe, with the economical grace of Jimmy Greaves, the short back-lift when they shot and the bravery that distinguishes the great from the merely good. Joe once knocked out Ron Yeats with a punch, which, of course, I can’t condone. But there’s a part of me that admired his courage in even trying it on with someone as intimidating as Liverpool’s tough as teak centre half”

On another occasion during a pre-season tour of the West Indies, Baker’s aggression is said to have caused a riot. ‘He head-butted one of the Jamaican players and the game got abandoned,’ Peter Storey said.

After a disappointing 1965–66 season Wright sold Baker to Nottingham Forest for £65,000. Baker had a successful 1966/67 at Forest, as the club finished runners-up in the top division to the following season’s European Cup Winners, Matt Busby’s Manchester United who included Baker’s ex Torino team mate, Denis Law.

After three years at Forest, Baker scored 41 goals in 118 league games. He then moved to Sunderland for a fee of £30,000. Baker spent the following two seasons playing for the Black Cats.

(The following footage includes Joe Baker scoring for Hibs)

Baker returned to Hibernian for a second time in 1971 and scored 12 goals in 30 appearances. He moved to Raith Rovers in 1972. He retired in 1974, having in all scored 301 league goals in 507 games.

He is notable for being the first professional player to have played for England without having previously played in the English football league system, and for scoring over 100 goals in both the English and Scottish leagues.

Alf Ramsey with Joe Baker, Jimmy Greaves et al

Joe scored his 100th and final goal for Arsenal against Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury on December 28th, 1965.

Click to see image expanded

Joe suffered a heart attack during a charity golf tournament and passed away in Wishaw General Hospital soon after, he was only 63 years old.

Joe Baker was a special player, tough as nails and a wonderful goal scorer, I just loved watching him play.

GunnerN5

Advertisements

Arsenal’s Century Club – David Jack

May 20, 2019

Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. David Jack sits at number 7

Born in Bolton, Lancashire, David started his career with his father’s club, Plymouth Argyle in 1919. There he scored 15 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions. In 1920 he returned to the town of his birth, moving to Bolton Wanderers for £3,500. He spent eight seasons with the Trotters, forming a formidable partnership with Joe Smith, and between them they scored over 300 goals. While at Bolton, he made history by being the first person to score a goal at Wembley Stadium, in the 1923 FA Cup Final; Bolton won 2–0 and Jack earned his first medal.

A year later, he won his first England cap, in a 1–2 defeat against Wales on 3 March 1924. In eight years he played eight times for his country and scored three times. He continued to have success with Bolton, winning the FA Cup again in 1925–26, scoring the only goal in a 1–0 win over Manchester City. He was the club’s top scorer for five of the eight seasons he was there, scoring 144 goals in 295 league matches.

David Jack scores in the 1930 FA Cup semi against Hull City

In 1928, with Bolton in financial trouble, he was signed by Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal for £10,890 (nearly double the previous record).

Here is the complete story of when Herbert Chapman signed David Jack.

Once upon a time, Arsenal actually spent big in order to attract quality players and their free spending ways attracted criticism from the Football Association.

David Jack was well known to football fans when Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman signed him for a record £10,890 in 1928.

The striker had scored the first ever goal at Wembley (the stadium had just been built) when his Bolton team beat West Ham in the 1923 FA Cup final, but the fee appalled some.

Sir Charles Clegg, head of the Football Association, believed no player was worth £10,000, but it could have been worse given Bolton initially asked for £13,000 – double the previous transfer record set by Sunderland when they bought Bob Kelly from Burnley in 1925.

Chapman, though, had a trick up his sleeve according to club secretary Bob Wall when he invited a Bolton delegation to London for drinks.

Wall was just 16 at the time and carrying out minor admin duties when he accompanied Chapman to the ‘meeting’.

Instructing the barman to give his guests whatever they wanted as long as they were double measures, Chapman explained he would be drinking gin and tonic and his young assistant was on the whiskey and ginger.

Except the barman, whose pockets were now stuffed with Chapman’s cash, was to leave the gin and whiskey out.

So, many rounds later when the Bolton lot were feeling merry, a very sober Chapman was able to haggle the price.

But surely Jack was past his best at 29 years old anyway?

No is the simple answer. He finished the season as top scorer and in 1930 won the FA Cup again to become the first player to win the trophy with two different clubs at Wembley.

They were magical times for Gooners, with Jack playing in one of the most devastating attacks the game has seen alongside Joe Hulme, Alex James, Jack Lambert and Cliff Bastin who was dazzled by his team-mate’s talent.

David was one of the finest inside-rights I ever saw,” he explained in his autobiography Cliff Bastin Remembers.

An amazing natural body swerve and a terrific shot made him a terror to defences,” he added.

In addition to FA Cup glory, Jack won three league titles and scored 124 times in 208 matches before retiring in 1934.

Intended as a replacement for retired captain Charlie Buchan, David was a success at Highbury. He made his debut against Newcastle United on 20 October 1928, and became a regular straight away. He was the club’s top scorer for the 1928–29 season. Although less prolific than centre-forward Jack Lambert, he still scored important goals, including the one in the 1929–30 FA Cup semi-final against Hull City which sent Arsenal through to the final; Arsenal beat Huddersfield Town 2–0 in the final and he became the first player to win the Cup at Wembley with two different clubs.

He continued to feature for Arsenal through the early 1930s, recording a personal best of 34 goals in Arsenal’s First Division-winning season of 1930–31. He won two more titles in 1932–33 and 1933–34; however by the time of the latter he was in his mid-30s and reaching the end of his career, with competition for his place from new signing Ray Bowden meant Jack played only 16 matches that season. He retired soon after winning his third league medal, in May 1934. In all he scored 124 times in 208 matches for Arsenal.

Arsenal’s David Jack (l) directs a header goalwards (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

After retiring from playing, he went on to become manager of Southend United, and then Middlesbrough. He also managed League of Ireland side Shelbourne from the summer of 1953 to April 1955.

He died in 1958, aged 59.

Click on image to see expanded

GunnerN5


A Youth Revolution?

May 19, 2019

So disappointed with the belief seemingly held by Dick, some here on our blog, and so called “knowledgeable commentators” on other sites, that pressure to produce results in the Premier League prevents the Manager from blooding youth regularly.

Instead Suarez, Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Micky, Elneny, Jenkinson, Chambers to name a few of the non controversial  ones, labour to make a mark, to make a difference, and rarely achieve. Saka and Amaechi may yet have seats on Arsenal’s extended bench for the Europa Final – but is it enough?

Mavididi playing for Juve

Stephy Mavididi signed for Juve u23s in 2018 and is now on the verge of the first team. Ismael Bennacer’s performances at Empoli have caught the eye of Napoli. Chuba Akpom has won the title in the Greek league. Donyell Malen is a regular in a PSV Eindhoven side that pushed Ajax close for the Dutch title.

Arsenal have one of the most talented set of youngsters in their Academy and U18s that we have ever had. They are the legacy of Liam Brady and now the future under Freddie. But only if they are given a proper window of opportunity. Scouts from all over Europe are ready to snap them up, are visiting each and every game they are involved in. They understand the Arsenal system, the Arsenal family, and they want to succeed big time.

Well, I’m sorry, the Club is doing them a disservice.

Nelson, Smith-Rowe, Nketiah, Willock, Amaechi, John Jules, Pleguezuelo, Medley, Thompson, Saka, Mavrapanos are all worthy of significant game time. This is a serious watershed moment.

We are close to losing potentially top class talent, but at the very least, better quality than many who have gone through the motions this season. Give ’em a (proper) go, Dick, and save the money on bigger gambles you are considering.

LBG


Arsenal’s Century Club – Doug Lishman

May 18, 2019

Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Doug Lishman sits at number 8

Born in Birmingham, Doug first played as a centre forward for non-league Paget Rangers, before signing as a professional for Third Division South Walsall in August 1946. In two seasons with the Saddlers, Lishman scored 26 goals in 59 league appearances.

From AFC.com

He was signed by Arsenal in the summer of 1948 for £10,500, as backup for Reg Lewis, who was only 28 but was injured frequently, Doug made his debut against Sheffield United on September 4, 1948, but after a promising first season (scoring 13 goals in 25 appearances), and his 1949-50 and 1950-51 seasons were marred by injuries. He was passed over for the 1950 FA Cup final (which Arsenal won 2-0), in favour of Lewis and Peter Goring, and then just as he came back into the Arsenal first team, he broke his leg playing against Stoke City in December 1950.

S&G and Barratts Empics Sport

However, he recovered to become Arsenal’s top scorer in 1950-51, and the next season hit 30 goals, including three hat-tricks in three successive home matches; (GN5 saw them all)

27 October 1951 4-3 v Fulham
10 November 1951 6-3 v WBA
24 November 1951 4-2 v Bolton W

Arsenal finished third that season. The following season (1951-52) they reached the FA Cup final, only to lose to Newcastle United; a series of injuries meant only eight fit players finished the match (no substitutes were allowed in those days). Doug came close for Arsenal with a header, which clipped the crossbar, but Arsenal lost 1-0.

The following clip includes Doug Lishman getting the third against Chelsea in the the 1952 FA Cup semi-final at White Hart Lane. There are some brilliant shots of the crowd (Freddie Cox is the star helping to stuff Chelsea (pre-chav days) 3-0)

His disappointment was soon forgotten, as Arsenal won the League Championship in 1952-53. He was again Arsenal’s top scorer, this time with 26, and with every goal proving vital, Arsenal won the title on goal average above Preston North End. His form was good enough for him to be picked for an England B match against Scotland B in March 1953, although he was never capped for the full national side.

Doug was top scorer for another two seasons after that, making it five successive seasons as the club’s top scorer in total. He scored 137 goals in 244 appearances, making him the club’s tenth-highest goal scorer of all time. However with younger men like Derek Tapscott and David Herd taking over goal scoring duties for Arsenal, Doug was dropped from the first team in 1955-56.

Doug teaching his son how to head the ball

In March 1956 he was sold to Second Division Nottingham Forest. He scored a hat-trick in the match that got Forest promoted (a 4-0 win over Sheffield United) to Division One in 1956-57, but decided to retire in the summer of 1957. He left the game entirely after retiring. He joined his father-in law in business (furniture retail) in Stoke on Trent, later taking over the business himself. He continued to live in Stoke on Trent until his death in 1994.

Doug scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against Cardiff City at Ninian Park on September 26th 1953.

Click to see image expanded

Doug Lishman was one of my favourite players as a kid.

GunnerN5


Arsenal’s Century Club – David Herd

May 17, 2019

Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. David Herd sits at number 9

David Herd was born on 15 April 1934 in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, his mother went north to family just prior to his birth so he could qualify for Scotland like his father who helped Manchester City win the FA cup a few weeks after David’s birth.

Courtesy of Alamy

David grew up in Moss Side beginning his professional career at Stockport County as an amateur in 1950. He signed professionally a year later and in May 1951 played as a 17 year old in the same Stockport forward line up as his 39 year old father Alec. David scored in the 2-0 win. Herd caught the eye of Matt Busby in 1952 but a hiccup scuppered the transfer deal and he remained at Edgeley Park in the 3rd Division North. National Service intervened and for two years he was in the RAF, and a few hours after his demobilization on August 24th 1954 Arsenal’s manager Tom Whittaker swooped and purchased him for £10,000.

Herd made his Arsenal debut on 19 February 1955 at home to Leicester, and took a while to bed into the team however during the 1957-1961 seasons he was The Arsenal’s top goal scorer for the four successive seasons. One of these goals was scored for the Gunners in the Busby Babes’ last match on English soil, a 4-5 defeat at Highbury on 1 February 1958, often noted as one of the greatest ever games.

For Arsenal, Herd scored 107 goals in 180 appearances & at one point an explosive right foot missile of his was timed at 72.5 mph, it being no surprise he was nicknamed “Hot Shot” Herd. He is the club’s 16th highest ever goalscorer, with a hit ratio of 0.594 goals per game, which places him just outside the all time top ten of Arsenal’s best strike rates. He also played 85 games in the reserves and scored 46 goals, one of which was in the 1954-55 final of the London FA Challenge Cup in which Arsenal beat West Ham.

Football F.A. Cup 6th Round 1957: Arsenal V West Brom
David Herd heads Arsenal’s first goal.

His final match for the club came on 29 April 1961 at Everton, where he scored in a 1-4 defeat. Despite all his goals, the best League position while at the club was third in 1958-59, and it would have been understandable were he to look elsewhere for the chance of honours. This course of action appeared to be encouraged as manager George Swindin offered him as a makeweight in deals for both Denis Law and George Eastham in March and September 1960. More than hinting he was not part of the manager’s longer term plans, it was somewhat ironic as Herd ended up the 2nd highest scorer in the whole of the top flight during the 1960-61 season.

Consequently Herd moved to Manchester United on 26th July 1961 for £40,000. There he won 2 League and 1 FA cup winners medals, and he also received a European Cup winner’s medal as a squad member. A broken leg in 1967 put paid to his position in their forward pecking order. He is 13th in Manchester United’s all-time goalscoring list, 145 goals from 265 appearances, which was almost identical to his scoring ratio while at Arsenal.

On 15 July 1968 he moved to Stoke City on a free transfer, and then onto Waterford briefly in 1970 before ending his playing career which had seen him net 272 times in 516 appearances!

A Scotland international, he scored 3 times in the 5 occasions he appeared for his country. All of his caps were won while he was at Arsenal at it was ridiculous for such a natural goal scorer to only play 5 times for his country and is an indictment of the SFA in repeatedly ignoring a title winning forward.

A short spell as manager of Lincoln City in the early 1970s saw his football career come to a halt and he ran a number of Manchester based car garages before retiring in 1999. He also enjoyed playing golf and cricket.

Obituary for David Herd

Former Arsenal, Manchester United and Scotland centre forward David Herd passed away on October 1st, 2016, after a five-year battle against vascular d.

He joined the Gunners in what is now known as “The Dark Era”. The team which had won the FA Cup in 1950 and the League in 1953 was breaking up and during Herd’s seven years in North London, the Gunners never finished better than third. That was in 1958-59, the season in which Herd won the first of his five Scottish caps, when he was one of four debutantes named for the opening Home International of the season, against Wales, in Cardiff.

He left football to enter the motor trade in the Manchester area, running a garage in Urmston right up until he reached retirement age in 1999. He had first invested in the business in 1965, already looking ahead to the end of his playing career. It gave him ample opportunity to indulge in his love of fast cars, while his sporting instincts were satisfied by his long-time membership of Ashton-on-Mersey Golf Club – where he had a low handicap for many years, and by playing cricket for various club sides around his home in South Manchester.

A “destructive” batsman, he was still playing first-team cricket into his 60s, while, away from the sports field, he enjoyed cruising holidays, visited Malta at least once each year and made two trips back to Scotland each year, to see family and to attend the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrew’s, which he loved.

The following clip shows David Herd scoring his first goal at Highbury. It just about shows his second as well as Arsenal beat Sunderland 3-1 in February 1956. (Jimmy Bloomfield’s goal is a cracker). The film quality is appalling as is the frozen pitch but the clip is worth watching.

David scored his 100th goal for Arsenal on January 1st 1961 at Highbury, it was the third goal in his third hat trick of the season.

Click to see image expanded

GunnerN5


Arsenal’s Century Club – Cliff Bastin

May 16, 2019

Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Cliff Bastin sits at number 10

Born in Heavitree near Exeter, Cliff started his career at Exeter City, making his début for the club in 1928, at the age of 16. Despite only playing 17 games and scoring 6 goals in his time at Exeter, he was spotted by Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman in a match against Watford; Chapman was attending to keep tabs on a Watford player, but the 17-year-old Bastin’s ability was so evident that Chapman decided to sign him at the end of the 1928-29 season.

Alex James and Cliff Bastin – a deadly duo

He made his début against Everton on 5 October 1929 and was immediately a first team regular, making 21 appearances that season. He went on to become an integral player in the side over the next decade, playing over 35 matches for every season up to and including 1937-38. His play was characterised by a remarkable coolness, and deadly precision in front of goal; he also became Arsenal’s regular penalty taker. Cliff’s scoring feats are all the more remarkable considering he played on the left wing rather than as centre forward; at the time Arsenal’s strategy depended heavily on their wingers cutting into the penalty box, and the supply of passes from Alex James was the source of many of his goals.

Cliff won the FA Cup twice, in 1929-30 and 1935-36, and the First Division title five times, in 1930-31, 1932-33, 1933-34, 1934-35 and 1937-38 and by the age of nineteen he had won a League title, FA Cup and been capped for England, making him the youngest player ever to do all three. Cliff also finished as Arsenal top scorer twice (1932–33 and 1933–34, though after centre-forward Ted Drake arrived in March 1934, Cliff was no longer Arsenal’s number one target man.

With Drake scoring the lion’s share of the goals and Alex James increasingly unavailable due to injury and age, Cliff was moved to inside-forward to replace James for much of the 1935-36 season but he still scored 17 goals, including six in Arsenal’s run to the 1936 FA Cup Final, which they won 1-0. After a stint at right half to cover for Jack Crayston, he was eventually restored to the left wing and scored 17 goals in the 1937-38 title-winning season.

Cliff was a key part of the side that dominated English football in the 1930s. He scored 178 goals in 396 games, which made him Arsenal’s all-time top goal scorer from 1939 until 1997, when his total was surpassed by Ian Wright. In 2005 Thierry Henry passed both Bastin and Wright’s totals, thus meaning Bastin is currently Arsenal’s third-top goal scorer of all time. His record of 150 league goals for Arsenal stood for slightly longer, until it was equalled by Thierry Henry on 14 January 2006 and surpassed on 1 February.

During his career Cliff also played for England between 1931 and 1938, winning 21 caps and scoring 12 goals. Cliff played in the notorious friendly against Germany in May 1938 when the players gave the Nazi salute in the pre-game ceremonies. England won 3-6 against a side that had a 16 game winning streak – Cliff scored the first goal.

Less controversially, Bastin appeared in the film “The Arsenal Stadium Mystery” in 1939. The last game at Highbury, before the outbreak of the Second War against Brentford was used for filming the shots of the game in the film. The war intervened when he was only 27. He was excused war service for failing the army hearing test, and served as an ARP Warden at the Highbury Stadium. His film appearance in 1939 was not his last – in 1942, Cliff Bastin played a footballer in the classic British war film “One of our aircraft is missing”. He continued to play football in the war-time league that was instituted for raising civilian morale. Bizarrely, Mussolini’s Fascist Italian Radio claimed in 1941 that he had been captured in the Battle for Crete. He didn’t play football again until after the war, when he played 6 times, to retire in January 1947, having suffered with an injury to his right leg in the 1938/9 season.

Cliff scored his 100th goal for Arsenal on October 28th, 1933 against Aston Villa in an away game at Villa Park.

Cliff in 1946 – how many goals would he have scored for The Arsenal if the War hadn’t intervened?

After retirement, Cliff returned to his native Exeter and became landlord of The Three Tuns at Silverton, and then ran the Horse & Groom public house in Heavitree, Exeter. A stand at St James Park, Exeter’s home ground, is named in his honour and in 2009 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

click to see image expanded

He died in 1991 at the age of 79.

As a kid I was familiar with the name Cliff Bastin as my family often spoke about him at their “discussions” after each game. I had his picture in my scrap book, (cut out of newspapers) but unfortunately he retired after the 1946/47 season, one season before I started to go to games.

GunnerN5

Bonus picture

A still from The Arsenal Stadium Mystery – Highbury’s West Stand with terracing below and the North Bank in the background


Arsenal’s Century Club – Thierry Henry

May 15, 2019

Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Thierry Henry sits at number 11.

Thierry appeared in 377 games over a 13 year period and scored 226 goals.

Thierry was born and raised in Les Ulis suburb of Paris which, despite sometimes being seen as a tough neighbourhood, provided good football facilities. As a seven-year-old, he showed great potential, and was recruited by the local club CO Les Ulis. He joined US Palaiseau in 1989, but after a year his father fell out with the club, so Henry moved to ES Viry-Châtillon and played there for two years.

In 1990, Monaco sent scout Arnold Catalano to watch Thierry, when he was just 13 years old, he scored all six goals in a 6–0 win. Catalano asked him to join Monaco without even having a trial first, later he joined Arsène Wenger’s Monaco as a youth player. Subsequently, he signed professional forms and made his professional debut in August 1994. Although Wenger suspected that Thierry should be deployed as a striker, he put him on the left wing because he believed that his pace, natural ball control and skill would be more effective against full-backs than centre-backs. He was named the French Young Footballer of the Year in 1996, and in the 1996–97 season when Monaco won the Ligue 1 title. By his third season, he had received his first cap for the national team, and was part of the winning team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He continued to impress during his tenure with Monaco, and in his five seasons he scored 20 league goals in 105 appearances.

Thierry left Monaco in January 1999 and moved to Italian Serie A club Juventus for £10.5 million. He played on the wing, but found it difficult playing in an unfamiliar position against the Serie A defensive discipline, and scored just three goals in 16 appearances. Unsettled in Italy, he transferred from Juventus in August 1999 to Arsenal for an estimated fee of £11 million, reuniting with his former manager Arsène Wenger.

It was at Arsenal that he made his name as a world-class footballer. Brought in as a replacement for fellow French forward Nicolas Anelka, Thierry was immediately moulded into a striker by Wenger, a move that would pay rich dividends in years to come. However, doubts were raised about his ability to adapt to the quick and physical English game when he failed to score in his first eight games. After several difficult months in England he conceded that he had to “be re-taught everything about the art of striking”. These doubts were dispelled when he ended his first season at Arsenal with an impressive goal tally of 26. Arsenal finished second in the league behind Manchester United, and lost in the UEFA Cup Final against Turkish side Galatasaray. Despite recording fewer goals and assists than his first season, his second season with Arsenal proved to be a breakthrough, as he became the club’s top goal scorer. Armed with one of the league’s best attacks, Arsenal closed in quickly on perennial rivals Manchester United for the league title.

Success finally arrived during the 2001–02 season. Arsenal finished seven points above Liverpool to win the league title, and defeated Chelsea 2–0 in the FA Cup Final. Thierry became the league’s top goal-scorer and netted 32 goals in all competitions as he led Arsenal to a double and his first silverware with the club. 2002–03 proved to be another productive season for him, as he scored 32 goals in all competitions while contributing 23 assists, remarkable returns for a striker. In doing so, he led Arsenal to another FA Cup triumph, where he was man-of-the-match in the Final.  Even though Arsenal failed to retain their Premier League crown, he was named both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year. His rising status as one of the world’s best footballers was affirmed when he emerged runner-up for the 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year award.

In the 2003–04 season Thierry was again instrumental in Arsenal’s exceptionally successful campaign; together with team mates the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pirès, he ensured that the Gunners became the first team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league season unbeaten, claiming the league title in the process. He was named as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year, for the second year running. With 39 goals scored in all competitions, he led the league in goals scored and won the European Golden Boot.

In the 2004–05 season he maintained his reputation as one of Europe’s most feared strikers as he led the league in scoring, and with 31 goals in all competitions, he was the co-recipient (with Diego Forlán) of the European Golden Boot. In mid-2005 Thierry became the Arsenal Captain. The 2005–06 season proved to be one of remarkable personal achievements for Thierry on 17 October 2005, he became the club’s top goal-scorer of all time; two goals against Sparta Prague in the Champions League meant he broke Ian Wright’s record of 185 goals. On 1 February 2006, he scored a goal against West Ham United, bringing his league goal tally up to 151, breaking Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin’s league goals record. He completed the season as the league’s top goal-scorer, and for the third time in his career, he was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year.

In a surprise move Arsenal sold Thierry to Barcelona on 25 June 2007, for €24 million.

Henry left Arsenal as the club’s leading all-time league goal-scorer with 174 goals and leading all-time goal-scorer in Europe with 42 goals; in July 2008, Arsenal fans voted him as Arsenal’s greatest player ever in Arsenal.com’s Gunners’ Greatest 50 Players poll.

Following his time with Barcelona, he signed a four-year deal for a reported €6.8 (£4.6) million per season, with the Red Bulls of the MLS.

After training with Arsenal during the MLS off-season, Thierry re-signed for the club on a two-month loan deal on 6 January 2012. This was to provide cover for players participating in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. He made his second Arsenal debut as a substitute against Leeds United in the FA Cup third round and scored the only goal. In his last league game on loan, he scored the winning goal in stoppage time in a 2–1 win against Sunderland.

Awards and honours:

Monaco:

Ligue 1 (1): 1996–97

Trophée des champions (1): 1997

Arsenal:

Premier League titles: 2001–02, 2003–04

FA Cup: 2002, 2003, 2005

FA Community Shield: 2002, 2004

Barcelona:

La Liga: 2008–09, 2009–10

Copa del Rey: 2008–09

Supercopa de España: 2009

UEFA Champions League: 2008–09

UEFA Super Cup: 2009

FIFA Club World Cup: 2009

New York Red Bulls:

MLS Eastern Conference: 2010

National:

1998 FIFA World Cup

UEFA Euro 2000

FIFA Confederations Cup2003

Individual:

UNFP Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year (1): 1996–97

PFA Players’ Player of the Year (2): 2002–03, 2003–04

PFA Team of the Year (6): 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06

FWA Footballer of the Year (3): 2002–03, 2003–04, 2005–06

Premier League Golden Boot (4): 2001–02, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06.

Golden Boot Landmark Award 10 (1): 2004–05

Golden Boot Landmark Award 20 (1): 2004–05

Premier League Player of the Month (4): April 2000, September 2002, January 2004, April 2004

Goal of the Season (1): 2002–03

UEFA Team of the Year (5): 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006

MLS Best XI (2): 2011, 2012

MLS Player of the Month (1): March 2012

Onze d’Or (2): 2003, 2006

European Golden Boot (2): 2003–04, 2004–05

French Player of the Year (5): 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

IFFHS World’s Top Goal Scorer of the Year (1): 2003

FIFA FIF Pro World XI (1): 2006

FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1): Germany 2006

FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball (1): France 2003

FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Shoe (1): France 2003

UEFA European Football Championship Team of the Tournament (1): 2000

FIFA 100: 2004

English Football Hall of Fame: 2008

A statue of Thierry statue stands outside the Emirates Stadium honouring him as one of Arsenal’s all time greatest legends.

Thierry scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against West Ham at Highbury on January 19th, 2003.

GunnerN5