Essays from 116th Street

Self-therapy, since 2004...

Location: New York, New York

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Thierry Henry, The World's Greatest

That's right, I said it. It had to be said. Somebody has to be willing to step up and declare the honest truth when it is most necessary, and this is why I will be the one. Aesthetics and La Liga titles aside, the truth must be known, and the truth is that Ronaldinho is not the world's greatest player. If anyone is most deserving of the FIFA World Player of the Year for 2006, that person is the one and only Thierry Henry.
Henry missed out on the award in 2004, despite Arsenal's undefeated Premier League season, most likely due to the fact that voters couldn't decide who was more integral to the team's success that season, Henry or then-captain Patrick Vieira. Ronaldinho undeservedly took the award, after leading Barcelona to only a second-place finish in La Liga. In 2005, Arsenal's dip in form, coupled with Barcelona's Spanish title, gave the award to El Gaucho for a second straight season, and this, coupled with Brazil's capture of the Confederations Cup gave little room for argument against Ronaldo de Assis Moreira.
This season, however, I have come to my conclusion, which is that no player in the world contributes more to his team's success than Henry does for Arsenal. I saw Ronaldinho score a fairly spectacular goal to move Barca past Chelsea in the Champions League, but I also saw him fade out for most of two matches, while his teenage teammate Lionel Messi outshone him. Yesterday, against an inferior Benfica club, he was unable to lift Barcelona past a 0-0 draw.
Arsenal, meanwhile, has spent much of the season coping with the loss of their captain Vieira (he was sold to Juventus in the offseason), a rash of injuries and the integration of a handful of teenagers into the squad as a means of overcoming the loss of manpower. With the club in crisis, Henry was handed the captaincy, and with it the mantle of leading this team of kids toward the modest goal of a salvageable season.
After a shaky start to the campaign, Arsenal has responded in a big way, playing their trademark style of zany, attacking football, with Henry leading the way. Underdogs against Real Madrid in the Champions League, they effectively dismissed Los Galacticos, with Henry driving Real crazy, flying around the pitch, passing to teammates and generally inspiring the baby Gunners with his skill and leadership. If Arsenal's youth squad grew up by vanquishing the superstars of Madrid, imagine the confidence boost they gained yesterday by defeating their former captain Vieira and mighty Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal showdown. It should surprise no one that Henry was the lynchpin, setting up 18-year-old Cesc Fabregas for a goal, then adding a tally of his own. With Henry leading the way, Arsenal must feel as if they are capable of winning the whole trophy, for the first time ever.
Should Arsenal win the Champions League, Henry's career achievements would actually outshine those of Ronaldinho's. Like Ronaldinho, Henry is already a World Cup winner and a two-time league champion, as well as being a member of France's Euro 2000 and Confederations Cup 2003 championship squads. He has been Arsenal's top scorer in every season he has played for the club, and is its all-time leading scorer after only seven seasons. He has also been top goalscorer in Europe two years running, and with 25 goals thus far this season, is in the running for the Golden Boot again this year. If that doesn't sound like the "World's Finest" to you, what does?


Blogger Mchokozi said...

Thierry Henry is definitely my favorite and most dependable footballer at the moment. His consistency outshines that of Ronaldinho, who, despite being a world-class player of unique talent, fails to show this in every game he plays. The Benfica-Barca 0-0 draw was pathetic - given that Ronaldinho was on the field. It seems like Henry has an assist and/or a goal in every game he plays. I mean, his presence is *always* felt. Peace out man !

1:05 AM  

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