The 1990s and early 2000s were dramatic years for football at the highest level. Attracted by the huge increase in television revenues, the top clubs in the first division of the Football League broke away and, with the support of the Football Association, formed the Premier League in 1992. The bargaining strength, and salaries, of leading players escalated. Players from around the globe were drawn to the riches of the Premier League. Could a non-British player attract such long-standing passion within a club and its supporters in the 21st century as to lead to permanent recognition in bronze? Thierry Henry did.
Born in a suburb of Paris, Thierry Henry joined Arsenal in 1999 and became Arsenal’s outstanding striker during his eight seasons with the club – a world-class player with exceptional pace, skill, balance and the coolness of a finisher. He was central to Arsenal’s double-winning team in 2002 (under captain Tony Adams) and Premier League success in 2004. His goals helped Arsenal reach the final of the UEFA Champions League and he became the club’s all-time top scorer. He is also the French national team’s leading goalscorer.
When Arsenal celebrated the club’s 125th anniversary in 2011, three statues were unveiled outside the Emirates Stadium (the new, sponsored ground itself a symbol of the commercial success of the Premier League). Herbert Chapman, the club’s great manager of the 1930s, was again honoured. Two players were also chosen to symbolise the spirit of Arsenal. Tony Adams is immortalised in celebration of a goal in the match against Everton that clinched the first division title in 1998. Thierry Henry is on his knees acknowledging a glorious goal against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in 2002 - the first non-British player in the Premier League to be immortalised in bronze.