The Grove had a palpable tension around it. 25 minutes to go and we were deadlocked. Then it happened.
You came to the bench and put on the red and whites. It had been 5 years since you had worn the cannon next to your heart, 2000 days since we had chanted your name to the sky. I was only 12 when I first saw you painting a masterpiece on the green canvas of Highbury. You took the ball and with a stroke of that right foot, put it where it belonged, inside the Spurs goal.
As you stood there with Theo, waiting to be substituted in, It all came back to me, the one at the Bernabeu, the 50-yard run against Liverpool, the 80 yards drive through the entire Spurs’ team, the one against Manchester United over Barthez’s head and everyone’s imagination. I remembered it all as if it had happened yesterday and I didn’t realize when I stood up with a tear in my eye and remained that way.
10 minutes into the game you collect the pass from Song just inside the box and face the goal. It was that split second in which every Arsenal fan realized the grandeur of their king, for they knew, somehow, you would score. When you need a goal, you need Thierry Henry is what we were always told, what we always believed.
Surely enough, like all the 226 before this, you opened your body, whispered into the ears of the ball and caressed it into the far corner. Finally the parched stars above London heard the reverberation of “THIERRY HENRY, THIERRY HENRY, THIERRY HENRY, THIERRY HENRY” again.
You ran on the byline, with your arms outstretched towards those in the stands, taking everyone back into the time when you ruled our hearts, taking us back into your kingdom. As you went towards the boss, I ran towards the television set. I didn’t know what I was doing. You took the gaffer in your embrace and I hugged the television. I was never going to let go of the two of you again.
I was crying, uncontrollably, and I didn’t want to stop, because it was the happiest I had been for a long time, it was the most content, and most alive I had been in all those years. I was at peace. The whistle blew and I was still crying, thumping the crest along with you.
You had done the impossible again, rewritten your legend even more beautifully.
You always were and always will be the embodiment of the game for a Gunner. Highbury or Ashburton, the throne will always be yours. You are not just an Arsenal legend or a sporting idol for us, you are a way of life, the Arsene Wenger way, the Arsenal way.
Your legacy may be cast in bronze a couple of years back Thierry, but you were set in gold in our hearts a long time back. For there was none who conquered and ruled as lovingly as you did. For there was and will always be, only one INVINCIBLE KING.
WE LOVE YOU.