To accompany the announcement of Thierry Henry’s new contract with Arsenal, the BBC Sport website put together a page of comments about the event from various fans. Now, it’s hardly surprising that Arsenal fans have practically – in some cases, probably literally – been weeping with relief that he’s going to stay. But what’s really striking is the number of fans of other clubs who expressed their delight at his decision, and the fact that there wasn’t a single negative or even apathetic comment.
Henry is like the footballing equivalent of the Elgin Marbles: he’s not from Britain, but he’s a national treasure all the same and we’d really rather not lose him. In fact, he’s better than the Elgin Marbles because he chooses to stay here and so there isn’t the same sense of post-colonial guilt.
I don’t disagree with this mass jubilation: I’m similarly pleased that he’s staying and that we’ll still get to see him on a weekly basis. The Premiership would be a poorer spectacle if he left, and there’s surely a sneaking sense of pride that one of the world’s best players wants to play here. As well as being arguably the best footballer to have played here in decades, he’s an inspiration in terms of his attitude and I never cease to be amused by the fact that he actually does proper Gallic shrugs when he disagrees with an off-side decision. But does nobody in Britain have a bad word to say about this man?
The ex-Liverpool player Michael Robinson declared in today’s Guardian that Henry had demonstrated poor sportsmanship and a lack of dignity by complaining about the referee after the European Cup final. It’s notable, however, that Robinson did this from a safe distance, i.e. Spain. It’s obvious that he knows that such talk will not be tolerated in Britain, and so he has taken the coward’s way out, i.e. Spain. The offence might not have been so serious had he not zoned in on Henry’s dignity, when everybody knows that Henry is the most dignified footballer currently playing (admittedly this is not a hotly contested award).
Hence, I don’t expect to get much of a reaction when I ask: Does anybody not love Thierry Henry? If you don’t, leave your comments (with reasons) at the bottom, where they will be preserved for the ridicule of future visitors.