Thierry Henry Leaves Arsenal with Legacy Still Intact

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Thierry Henry Leaves Arsenal with Legacy Still Intact
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Tonight, Thierry Henry played his final match for Arsenal against AC Milan in a Champions League round of 16. Henry got to make a second-half cameo at the San Siro in a 4-0 loss to Milan.

This loss officially ends Henry's loan with Arsenal from the New York Red Bulls in MLS. Henry will now return to North America to join his teammates in their winter training before the start of the MLS season in March.

Henry's loan ends a solid two-month stretch for both Arsenal and Henry. When both Arsenal and Henry met up, Arsenal found themselves in a confusing and important part of their season.

Despite the many heroics of Robin van Persie, Arsenal did not look like they were going to qualify for next year's Champions League. That all changed with the announcement that Henry was going to join Arsenal on a six-week loan.

Henry has been a legendary figure with Arsenal since he made his first appearance with the club in 1999, all the way up to 2007. Henry scored 226 goals with the Gunners in all competitions—a club record—and was a critical part of the "Invincibles" side that did not lose in the league in 2003-04.

Henry has more goals than any Arsenal player in history in both the UEFA Champions League and in the Premier League.

He did, of course, have some incredible teammates, yet he still was able to soak up the sun and become the biggest star in the club's history. 

Clive Mason/Getty Images
Wenger made a great decision by bringing Henry in on loan

Henry is such a legendary Arsenal figure that he was named the greatest player in the club's history in a fan vote on Arsenal's website in 2008.

Henry returned to Arsenal in early January, scoring winning goals against Leeds United in the FA Cup and last Saturday against Sunderland,in the Premier League. Henry has also been a solidifying figure that has helped Arsenal reach the fourth position in the league table, something that appeared to be a pipe dream last September.

When Henry returned, very few people thought that he was going to have the success that he has achieved in this loan. This includes Arsene Wenger, who recently admitted, "I didn't expect him to be so important for us when he returned on loan at the start of the year."

Going into this loan, Henry had only played against the weaker competition that exists in Major League Soccer, and had not faced any true world-class competition since Henry was part of France's squad in the 2010 World Cup.

Yet Henry has come back to Arsenal looking like he was still at least part of the player that he once was. Henry displayed that incredible clutch finishing touch that he showed with the Gunners a decade ago during both of his goals in this loan.

That concern over how Henry would perform was something that many people worried about during his return. The image that people had of Henry being a superstar and a club hero could have been tarnished had Henry flopped. Yet this didn't happen.

Instead, this loan caused Wenger to try to keep Henry at the club longer, though this plan eventually failed.

Henry will now go back to New York knowing that he was able to further advance his own legacy, while making a positive contribution to the club he loves.

Arsenal may not be in the best shape now, with Henry gone and a very difficult stretch over the next several weeks. They'll surely wish that they had Henry back again in order to help them in these games.

 

Follow me on Twitter @Andrew_Jordan

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