WTTGT Writer: Matt Mace
No, before you ask, it’s not Nicklas Bendtner. In fact the Danish striker shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as some of the goal scoring heroes of Arsenal FC. Whilst there isn’t too much room for debate as to who is Arsenal’s greatest striker, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty who deserve to have “legendary” status for the Gunners.
Strikers Jimmy Brain and Jack Lambert had stunning goals per games ratios for the club during the 1920s. Both were influential in steering Arsenal to the First division title in 1931. Cliff Bastin amassed well over 400 appearances for Arsenal and can now be seen on the outside of the Emirates Stadium. Ted Drake, Reginald Lewis, Doug Lishmen and John Radford were others that were regular scorers for the Gunners during the 40s and 50s.
More recently there was Ian Wright who signed for a then Arsenal transfer record of £2.5m in 1991 and since became a cult hero for Arsenal fans. Dennis Bergkamp is another that will always be in the hearts of Arsenal fans, so much so that the 16th of April was dedicated as ‘Dennis Bergkamp Day,’ after the Dutchman scored his last Arsenal goal in the 3-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion. Another Dutchman, Robin van Persie could well be on his way to emulating these other strikers and is close to reaching 100 goals in Arsenal colours.
However, there is no doubt as to whom Arsenal’s greatest striker was. Just 3 goals in 16 appearances for Juventus hardly backed up a transfer fee of around £12m. But Arsène Wenger had seen enough of Thierry Henry from their days at Monaco to know what this winger-come-striker was all about.
Coming out of his first season at Highbury with 26 goals to his name, Henry was well on the way to becoming the decorated world class footballer that he is known for today. The 2002/03 season saw Henry named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year as well as coming runner up the 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year award. During the ‘Invincibles’ season, Henry again picked up the same accolades as well as again finishing runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
He is the only player to be named as the European Golden Boot winner twice (although the second time he was joint leader with Diego Forlan). He became Arsenal’s all-time leading goal scorer after scoring against Sparta Prague, seeing him pass Ian Wright’s 185 goals for Arsenal. A goal against West Ham in 2006 saw him pass Cliff Bastin’s record of 150 league goals, and he is also the only player in Arsenal’s history to score over 100 goals at Highbury, something that will definitely never be beaten.
He’s a player who has won everything there is to win in world football. Every one of his 338 games for Arsenal was a joy to watch, as was each of his 226 goals that helped cement his title as one of the greatest players to ever grace the footballing world. And whilst Arsenal fans no longer get the delight of watching Henry strike fear into the opposition with every touch of the ball; he will be returning to the Emirates with current club New York Red Bulls in the Emirates Cup and is sure to be given a hero’s welcome.