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Arsenal stars hail ‘king’ Thierry

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HENRY-GIGGSLONDON, December 16- Present-day Arsenal stars led the tributes to club great Thierry Henry on Tuesday after the former France striker announced his retirement from professional football.

Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations on an outstanding career @ThierryHenry. Top player. Top guy. #Legend.”

The club’s German playmaker Mesut Ozil tweeted: “Once you enchanted all of us — now I can only say: Thanks for everything! @ThierryHenry #ArsenalLegend.”

English winger Theo Walcott, who inherited Henry’s number 14 jersey after the Frenchman left the club in 2007, said: “A true inspiration to me in my career. Thank you @ThierryHenry & good luck in your new path.”

Henry, 37, became a world and European champion with France and won the Champions League at Barcelona, but it is for his record-breaking exploits with Arsenal that he will be best remembered.

He won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with the club, set a new club scoring record of 228 goals, and was honoured with a statue outside the Emirates Stadium in 2011.

Having finished his career with the New York Red Bulls, Henry is due to return to London next month to work as an analyst and ambassador for Sky Sports.

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, who will work alongside Henry at Sky, said: “We were blessed in this country to see Thierry playing at his peak.

“He’s potentially one of the greatest players in the world and even if you supported another team, you couldn’t help but enjoy watching him play.”

– ‘Joy and adventure’ –

Former England striker Gary Lineker, now a BBC television presenter, wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations to @ThierryHenry on a truly wonderful career. One of the great footballers of our time and a top bloke. Bonne chance.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge described Henry as “my hero and idol” and wished him a “happy retirement”.

British television personality Piers Morgan, one of Arsenal’s most high-profile fans, tweeted: “Thank you @ThierryHenry for all the goals & trophies — and the sheer, majestic glory of the way you played football. What a career.”

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, British football writer Henry Winter said: “He loved playing, dribbling, running, scoring, and his example suffused countless impressionable young fans with an awareness that the game should be about joy and adventure.”

Henry’s time at Barcelona brought him the Champions League trophy that had eluded him at Arsenal, as well as two league titles, the Copa del Rey, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.

A message on the club’s website concluded: “Merci, Henry!”

Not all of the reaction to Henry’s retirement was positive, however, owing to his handball in a World Cup qualifying play-off against the Republic of Ireland in 2009 that helped France qualify at Ireland’s expense.

“There are a few greats who spoil that with what they do,” former Ireland midfielder Rory Delap told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I’m sure he regrets that. There is still a lot of feeling back home.”

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