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Premier League icon: Thierry Henry

With less than a fortnight to go until the Premier League season begins, Total Football’s Simon Wright will be looking back at the players, teams and goals that have lit up the 20 years of what is widely regarded as the world's greatest league.

The next player featured will go down as one of the greatest players of his generation. He has won everything in his career and he might not be done just yet.

Thierry Henry is the King of Highbury and Arsenal Football Club and he could be back for more, in years to come.

Name: Thierry Henry

Clubs he played for in the Premier League: Arsenal (1999-2007 & 2012)

Honours: FA Premier League championship winner in 2002 & 2004, FA Cup winner in 2002, 2003 & 2005, PFA Players Player of the Year in 2003 & 2004, Football Writers of the Year winner in 2003, 2004 & 2006, Golden Boot winner in 2002, 2004, 2005 & 2006.

PL Appearances: 258

Goals: 176

He scored 176 goals in 258 Premier League appearances, won multiple awards on a great team and an individual basis and in January this year, he returned to North London for more.

Thierry Henry (pictured) is one of the greatest specimens that the Premier League has ever seen. He has given fans many golden moments that will be remembered forever.

When Henry arrived at Highbury in the summer of 1999, there were doubts about his true potential.

He had already won the World Cup with France in 1998 but had experienced a miserable time in Serie A with Juventus.

Those who had doubts about him quickly went away.

From winger to striker

Arsene Wenger converted Henry from a position on the wing, into a more preferred role as a main striker.

Although he failed to score in his first eight games for the club and was a regular substitute in the early weeks, he grew into the Premier League and began to deal well with the pace and physical toughness of defenders.

He ended his first season with the Gunners, scoring 17 league goals and a UEFA Cup finalist but the best was yet to come.

He won Euro 2000 with France and then returned with another 17 goals and 14 assists the following season, showing he wasn’t a selfish striker in the slightest.

Against Manchester United in October 2000, he scored a breathtaking goal. He chipped the ball over the top of the defender and with his back to goal, launching a stunning strike that left his international colleague, Fabien Barthez watching in awe.

There was frustration with no honours so far but that all changed in 2001-02.

Henry won the Golden Boot for the first time, with 24 strikes and Arsenal won the Premier League and FA Cup double. At times, he was almost unplayable.

In 2002-03, there was another FA Cup but he lost out on the Golden Boot to Ruud Van Nistlerooy, despite matching his 24 goals from the previous campaign and the Premier League title slipped through the North Londoners grasp.

Personal achievements

However, Thierry won the PFA Players Player of the Year award in 2003, which was a feat he repeated the following year.

He also won the Goal of the Season award as voted by viewers of ITV, for his stunning solo effort in the North London derby at Highbury in November 2002.

In 2003-04, he was at the peak of his powers, winning the Golden Boot with 30 goals and playing an integral part in another Premier League trophy, which saw Arsenal go through the entire league season, without losing.

The Frenchman was becoming a worldwide star, through his various advertising deals too.

Nike ran a commercial where his supreme skill meant no-one could tackle him inside his house.

Also, there were the famous Renault advertisements, with the va-va-voom catchphrase!

Two more Golden Boots followed, as well as the Football Writers Award in 2006 and the 2005 FA Cup, despite missing this final through injury but there were no more Premier League titles with Arsenal.

He did give Highbury the perfect finale though, scoring a hat-trick on the final day of the 2005-06 campaign to beat Wigan Athletic 4-2.

New challenges lie in wait

Patrick Vieira’s departure the season before, had given Henry the captain’s armband the previous season.

There was Champions League agony in the final in Paris in 2006 and this remained the only major honour that was missing from his amazing collection.

He had secured most of Arsenal’s goalscoring records, breaking Ian Wright’s record tally of 185 when he scored a double in October 2005 in a Champions League game in Prague.

He signed a new contract after the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in 2006 but only stayed one more season, after an injury-hit 2006-07 campaign, which saw back, groin and foot injuries restrict him to just ten league strikes.

He moved to Barcelona in the summer of 2007 for over £20m and although, his dominant goalscoring ended at the Nou Camp, he won La Liga titles, the Copa del Rey and in 2009, the UEFA Champions League when the Catalans defeated Manchester United in Rome.

Henry moved to the MLS after the 2010 World Cup and has played for the New York Red Bulls since but there was one more glorious return to Arsenal.

In January 2012, Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh departed for the African Cup of Nations and after impressing in training with the club, Wenger pulled off a deal to bring Henry back into Arsenal’s playing squad for two months.

He came off the bench and scored on his first match back, which was the winner in an FA Cup match with Leeds and also netted in stoppage time to defeat Sunderland in February.

Although Thierry Henry’s long-term future is Stateside, another cameo at the Emirates can’t be ruled out.

Henry has left us with many fantastic memories that will never be forgotten.

NEXT TIME ON PREMIER LEAGUE ICONS: Chelsea’s greatest foreign import and one of the best in Premier League history, Gianfranco Zola

By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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