Thierry Henry agreed his move to Barcelona on Monday afternoon. Arsenal.com editor Richard Clarke gives his personal reflections on the French striker's emotional farewell over the weekend
As someone who has written more words in tribute to Thierry
Henry than probably anyone else, it is difficult to sum it all up
for one final time. Arsenal.com has waxed lyrical perennially in
our Player of the Season award and, in October 2005, all prayed at
the altar of Henry 186 when he broke the Club's goal-scoring
It goes without saying Thierry is one of the finest players to wear an Arsenal shirt. He arrived as perhaps an 'ugly duckling'; out of favour for France and Juventus. But he became the most elegant swan under Wenger's protective wing.
Goal-scorer, penalty-taker, captain, talisman, assist-maker, free-kick taker, corner taker - those were his responsibilities.
Speed, strength, accuracy, precision, technique, mental tenacity - those were has qualities.
Charismatic, emotional, enigmatic, talkative, open - that was his character.
Henry's departure has drawn emotional responses from everyone. The transfer of a figurehead player with such talent and charisma will always bring out an extreme reaction.
For yours truly there was no time for anything like that. In the wake of his announcement, Thierry had asked to have a final interview with the Club's website. He wanted to communicate his thoughts and thanks directly to the fans.
So after a frantic Saturday morning, by lunchtime we had set up a shoot at Emirates Stadium and waited for Henry to arrive. His newspaper column that day had confirmed the sale and outlined his reasons for leaving. Our job was to expand on that then consider and celebrate his Arsenal career.
The transcription on Arsenal.com on Saturday evening reflects what was said - verbatim. To prove it just look at the video on TV Online and you'll see the words from the horse's mouth. You could see it was emotional for him but that was brought home by the last question when I asked him to give a final direct message to the fans. To my surprise, he turned straight to the camera, looked down the lens andâ€¦ wellâ€¦ you can read what he said.
There will always be criticism of a world-class player leaving one top club for another when he still has something to give. However, if you had been in the room, then you would have absolute no doubt in Thierry's sincerity.
'Sympathy' is the wrong word for a highly-paid footballer making this kind of move. He was leaving after all. However it is obvious it was not done without the deepest of consideration. Thierry had asked for the interview and driven to the stadium on his own because he wanted to say his piece and, just perhaps, make his peace.
As ever, Thierry's phone had been ringing intermittently during his time with us. Today everyone wanted a piece of him. But, instead, at the end of the interview he chose to stay and talk to us. As affable as Thierry was, that was not normal. But then it was perhaps the most abnormal day of his Arsenal career.
We chewed the fat over any number of issues for a couple of hours. Anyone who has interviewed Thierry Henry knows that when he has something on his mind he will tell you about it. The conversation finally drew to a close, he hugged everyone in the room and left Emirates Stadium for the last time as an Arsenal player.
Undoubtedly the Highbury/Emirates crowd has seen the best years of Thierry Henry's career. And, despite the harbingers of doom that always attach themselves to news such as this, there is no reason to suspect the Club will not prosper next season. As Henry admitted, his influence last term was relatively small.
Life, football and this Club will go on just fine without Thierry Henry. But just as he meant a lot to every Arsenal supporter, his interview on Saturday confirmed - to this observer at least - that every Arsenal supporter meant a lot to him as well.
Copyright 2014 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 25 Jun 2007