Why this Arsene Wenger decision made Arsenal legend Thierry Henry go nuts – ‘He was fuming!’

19 Nov

Thierry Henry went ‘nuts’ when he was substituted out a Premier League match by Arsene Wenger – but only because he wanted to help his replacement score.

During Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Fulham in February 2002, Jeremie Aliadiere made his Gunners debut by replacing Henry with around 10 minutes to go.

The French forward had arrived in north London as a 16-year-old three years beforehand, and he hoped to begin his Arsenal career with a debut goal.

Aliadiere spent eight years with Arsenal but never truly established himself under Arsene Wenger
Getty Images – Getty

And Gunners legend Henry wanted Aliadiere to open his account that day as well – and he was angry after the match that Wenger had refused him the opportunity to help his compatriot.

“I came on for Thierry, Thierry came off,” Aliadiere recalled while speaking to Arsenal Nation: The Podcast. “I only came on, I think it was 10 minutes before the end.

“If I tell you how mad Thierry was to come off at the end… He was nuts and really started having a go at Arsene at the end of the game.

“Because you know why? Not because he was coming off at the end of the game, because he wanted me to score on my debut, so he wanted to stay on the pitch to give me an assist.

Henry wanted to help his fellow Frenchman out on his debut
getty

“And I just felt respect for the guy; I was a young player coming on and he was like, ‘nah, I want to stay on the pitch to help you out, help you score on your debut’.

“For a young guy like me coming on and playing their first game I was like, ‘bloody hell, Thierry Henry!’. I had just come on and was happy at Highbury – it was brilliant – and Thierry was fuming and I thought he was fuming because I came on and he came off.

“But when I spoke to him he said: ‘I so wanted you to score and that’s why I wanted to stay on the pitch. I don’t know why Arsene took me off as I thought we were going to play together’.

“So you know it was quite a nice thing.”

That would be the only league match Aliadiere played that season which meant he missed out on a Premier League medal, though he did qualify for one two years later when Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ won the title undefeated.

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