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Henry, Charlton Athletic and his back-heeled goal

Adorning the wall directly opposite me while writing this piece is a drawing of the great Thierry Henry.

While Thierry has many a wonderful moment in an Arsenal shirt, one moment for me stands out above the rest.

While this particular moment may not have been that significant in any regard, it certainly was for me.

The goal that Thierry scored in front of the North Bank on Saturday 2nd October 2004 is a childhood footballing memory that will stick with me forever, and it was simply outrageous.

Arsenal faced London rivals Charlton Athletic at Highbury, knowing a win would see their unbeaten league run extend to 48 games.

The Invincibles were not at full strength that afternoon. Youngsters Gael Clichy and Cesc Fabregas filled the void left by Ashley Cole and Gilberto Silva, while Robert Pires was also absent but, the team that took to Highbury turf that day more than got the job done.

Freddie Ljungberg opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark, sending Arsenal into half-time with a 1-0 lead.

Just three minutes into the second-half, Thierry’s moment arrived.

Dennis Bergkamp received the ball about 25-yards from goal, spotting the run of Jose Antonio Reyes across the right of the penalty area. The Spaniard elegantly chopped the ball back onto his left-foot, effortlessly finding the feet of Henry.

The Frenchman had his back to goal on the edge of the six-yard box, with Charlton defender Jon Fortune pressed right up against him. For most normal strikers, laying the ball off to a supporting team-mate would have been their first thought but, this is Thierry Henry we are talking about here.

Holding off Fortune and waiting for the right moment, Theirry was about to produce a moment of sheer brilliance that no one inside Highbury saw coming.

As Fortune looked to muscle Henry off the ball, the defender took a step to his left, opening his legs, the mistake Thierry had been waiting for.

Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer back-heeled the ball between Fortune’s legs, catching the unsuspecting Addicks ‘keeper Dean Kiely completely off guard, the ball rolled into the far corner, Henry wheeled away in celebration and everyone who witnessed his moment of utter brilliance was left opened mouthed at what they had just witnessed.

Henry scored a second with 20 minutes left before Reyes completed the scoring to crown a 4-0 win but, anyone who watched that game, including myself, only remembers it because of Thierry’s first goal.

It might not have been in a big game against Manchester United, it might not have been in a cup final, it might not have been at the Bernabeu but, it was one of the finest goals in Henry’s extensive collection.

I recalling being in shock and awe, thinking ‘how on earth did he do that?’ As a youngster, moments like that will stick with you forever and I often replay that goal in my head, especially when times are tough as a Gooner.

Safe to say I’ve been doing it a lot lately.

The sheer audacity to even think of that would have been enough to impress me, to try it and fail even more so but, the fact he pulled it off, nutmegging the helpless defender in the process easily makes it my favourite goal of all time.

I’ve probably seen hundreds of thousands of goals over my years as a football fan, from all distances and angles but, Henry’s backheel will always stick out in my mind above all others, maybe Bergkamp against Newcastle comes close as it was equally outrageous but, Thierry gets my vote.

The goal had everything, the build-up, Reyes’ chop turn, the strength shown by Henry and the pure audacity of the finish, it was all perfect.

I could honestly spend hours waxing lyrical about this goal but, neither of us have got time for that so I better stop.

We all know how special of a player Thierry Henry was, he was arguably the greatest forward the Premier League has ever seen and without a doubt the greatest to don the red and white of Arsenal.

Every Arsenal fan has their own Henry goal that they will always remember, that was mine.

So Thierry, thank you, thank you so much.



This post first appeared on Arsenal Football Club | Arsenal News | Arsenal FC, please read the originial post: here

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Henry, Charlton Athletic and his back-heeled goal

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