Emirates Cup title ends perfect weekend for Henry

"We came here to compete," RBNY captain says of tournament

henry-emiratescup

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LONDON — Thierry Henry stood in the middle of the pitch at Emirates
Stadium, arms aloft as the ball crossed the Arsenal goal-line. New York
players rushed to their talismanic forward to celebrate. They knew how
much a winning return to Arsenal meant to Henry. 

The Red Bulls captain, who had an emotional day returning to the club
he still supports and loves, was extremely happy his current team could
send out a message of intent to Europe and beyond.

RECAP: Henry, Red Bulls tie Arsenal, take Emirates Cup

“At the end of the day, we came here to compete,” Henry said after that
match. “It was a friendly tournament, but the win is good for us. We
are fighting to get into the playoffs in our conference. It is a good
result for the MLS as a league and obviously for the Red Bulls.”

Henry set up the goal that secured the 1-1 tie and the Emirates cup by
threading through a pass to left back Roy Miller in the 84th minute.
Miller’s cross was then bundled into the Arsenal net by Gunners defender
Kyle Bartley.

It was, in many respects, the perfect end to an emotional weekend for
Henry, who was welcomed back to the Emirates Stadium by Arsenal fans in
glorious fashion. A sellout crowd of 60,011 turned out to see their
former striker perform. When his name was mentioned on the loud speakers
before the game, a standing ovation from Arsenal fans showed just how
popular Henry still is in North London.

Henry certainly found the support he received from the Arsenal fans humbling as he reflected on a victorious weekend in London.

“It was kind of weird; the fans were all cheering for me when I had the
ball,” Henry said. “Then I am clapping them while I am playing at the
same time. It was weird. I have a strong love for the club and have a
great understanding with the fans here.”

“Welcome home Thierry” read just one of the many signs made by fans at
the Emirates today. Even when the Frenchman scored a goal in the warm
up, the crowd behind the goal celebrated. Henry has legendary status
back in North London and is working hard to earn the same status in the
US.

The current MLS-leading goal scorer also had a special surprise in
store for home fans as both clubs agreed for Henry to play the final 10
minutes for Arsenal. Yet FIFA rules and the referee put a stop to what
would have been a nice gesture from Henry to his beloved fans.

“There are some weird rules,” Henry said. “FIFA or the ref denied it.
They are the bosses of the game now ... that’s just how it is. I was
asked to do it and I said why not. It would have been nice. It doesn’t
matter though, I think I played enough games in the Arsenal shirt!”

Henry’s homecoming could not have gone any better as he and his Red
Bull teammates return to New York with the Emirates Cup in one hand, and
a confidence boost from coming out on top against elite European
opposition in the other.

The Red Bulls No. 14 singled out his teammates for special praise, some
of whom played two full games two days in a row after a tiring journey
to London.

“We don’t have a big squad, so it was kind of difficult for us to put
two teams out there,” Henry said. “Some of the guys played two full 90s
two days in a row, so you have to give credit to them. It is not easy. I
definitely know what its like to run when Arsenal have the ball. I use
to be on the other side.”

You can follow Joe Prince-Wright on Twitter on @JPW8