A few days ago, Thierry Henry made headlines by stating in an interview with Sky Sports that he “does not want to play Arsenal.” A bunch of commenters here and on other forums jumped on that statement and claimed he should be run out of town on a rail covered in spikes while being tar-and-feathered. Conveniently lost in the whole deluge of nonsense was the sentence immediately preceding the oft-quoted part: “I’m not saying I won’t try to fight or whatever because that’s the way the game is. But I don’t want to play against Arsenal.”
When asked if he would celebrate a goal against his former club, Henry said, “Forget about it. No. I do not want to play against Arsenal, simple as that.” Again, the no one bothered to pay attention to what he actually said, merely some of the words. He said he would not celebrate a goal against Arsenal because he does not want to play against them. He did not say he would not score a goal against them. The man is a professional athlete, paid millions of dollars to do one thing–win football matches–and whatever you say about him, whatever you say about football players in general, I think it is delusional (at best) to think Henry will, if put on the field against Arsenal, do anything other than try to win.
Maybe I’m naive. Maybe Henry really just lurvs him some Arsenal so much that he’ll give up the chance of a second consecutive Champions League medal in order to advance his old team to the semifinals to face a team that will probably beat them anyway (see what I did there?). But there’s one thing that I think all professional athletes have in common: competitiveness. Not competitiveness like you and I know from our time sitting around a TV playing FIFA with our buddies or trying to beat our little cousin in ping-pong (we’re, um, letting her win, yeah, that’s it), but rather a competitiveness that gets you up early in the morning to lift weights for 3 straight hours before beginning your day, avoid foods that are bad for you, a competitive self-discipline envied by Gordon Gekko, and the will to win at all costs that–wait, are people really questioning Thierry Henry‘s will to win at all costs? Ahem:
And then, of course, if Henry is out there and you’re questioning his inclusion because of professionalism, then you’re questioning Guardiola’s professionalism and understanding of the game and his players. Feel free to do that, of course, but if you do, don’t be surprised if you answer your door one day and you’re confronted with this: