Henry following Zidane in search of silverware
When Thierry Henry decided to leave Arsenal to sign with Barcelona he followed in the footsteps of compatriot Zinedine Zidane who also moved to Spain in the pursuit of Champions League glory.Updated: Aug 22, 2007 15:07 IST
When Thierry Henry decided to leave Arsenal to sign with Barcelona he followed in the footsteps of fellow French international Zinedine Zidane who also moved to Spain in the pursuit of Champions League glory.
Zidane was the same age - 29 - as Henry when he left Italian side Juventus to join Real Madrid in 2001 for a record 75 million euros (101 million US dollars) in the hopes of winning the only major trophy that had eluded him.
The former French number 10 got his wish during his first season with the Spanish giants.
Zidane, who had lost in two previous appearances in the final for Juventus, scored the winner in Real Madrid's 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen at Glasgow's Hampden Park on May 15, 2002.
Now Henry, who was on the losing side for Arsenal against Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final in Paris, makes no secret that he is looking to do the same with the Catalan club.
"We (Arsenal) lost against Barcelona in the Champions League final. I could have done it over there, but now I'm here and I have to live and breathe for Barcelona," he said after signing with Barcelona for four years in June.
"It is a dream for everyone to win the Champions League and it's the only thing I haven't won yet, so I would love to win it," the striker added.
The champions League medal is the only major prize missing from Henry's trophy case. He won the World Cup in 1998 and the European title in 2000 with France as well as a slew of domestic honours with Arsenal
The player, who turned 30 last week, almost joined Barcelona after Arsenal was defeated by Frank Rijkaard's team in Paris in 2006 but at the last minute he renewed with Arsenal.
But Barcelona continued to court Henry and, with uncertainty surrounding the continuation of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, the French player, nicknamed "Titi", decided in June that the time was right to move to the Spanish side.
Henry, Arsenal's top scorer in four of the five Premier League seasons between 2001-06, spent much of the last campaign sidelines with injuries but has rapidly found his place during the pre-season at Barcelona.
"He has enormous physical and technical qualities as well as speed," said Barcelona midfielder Xavi.
"It is a pleasure to count on him," Barcelona's Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o said during the club's pre-season tour of China and Japan.
"He is a friend, I know that already. Titi is not at his best form, I would say he is at 80 to 90 percent, which is already very good given that he was injured for a long time," he added.
Henry made his goal-scoring debt for his new club during Barcelona's 1-0 win over Scottish Premier League side Dundee United during a friendly in July after coming on as a second-half substitute.
"It was just a friendly match but for me it was important," he said at the time, adding he felt like he had been with Barcelona for a long time.
Barcelona, who lost the Spanish league crown to Real Madrid last season, will face Racing Santander on Sunday in their first match of the new campaign.
First Published: Aug 22, 2007 14:47 IST