By Chris Harris
Emotional, special, amazing. Those three words summed up how Thierry Henry was feeling after receiving a rapturous reception from Arsenal's fans at Emirates Stadium last night.
The Barcelona striker started the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final on the bench but entered the fray with 14 minutes left. Despite the intensity of the game - which Arsenal were losing 2-1 at the time - the home fans rose as one to hail their old hero as he replaced Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And the mutual love-in continued after the final whistle.
While his team-mates drifted off the pitch, Henry stood in the centre circle and applauded while the supporters chanted his name. As he left the stadium, the Frenchman reflected on a night to savour.
"It was very emotional," he said. "It was pretty special and obviously when I came on you heard what happened. The most special moment was at the end. Like we always do with the team at Barcelona, we went to see our fans and I said to myself that I have to clap the Arsenal fans for the welcome back they gave me. You saw what happened after that.
"I always said I have never hidden the love I have for the club and I think the fans showed tonight that they still love me. So it was a great feeling - amazing."
Those same fans raised the roof as Arsenal fought back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a draw with the European champions and stay in the tie. So was Henry surprised to see his old club dig so deep?
"Not at all, especially with the help of the fans," he said. "I have said it so many times, it always helps because sometimes you can be 2-0 down at home and if your fans start to boo you it's another story but the Arsenal fans were helping them and trying to help them come back in the game, and they did.
"On the other side it would have been better for us to come back with a win, but 2-2 is not a bad result. But I'm not surprised at all [that Arsenal came back], I know exactly what can happen here."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 1 Apr 2010