The young Arsenal striker Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took the Premiership by storm in his early Leage appearances for Arsenal, and he admites that it was Thierry Henry, who was on loan at the club at the time, that inspired him to his brilliant performances.
“It was really my first start in a massive game,” recalled Oxlade-Chamberlain. “Just before we were walking out to the tunnel, Thierry put me in a headlock and whispered in my ear: ‘I’ve been watching you in training. You have a bit extra, so try to run at people. Don’t waste today. Take people on, show the world what you can do, work hard, work back.’ That gave me massive confidence.”
“Thierry took me to one side after the game, with a big smile, and said: ‘Well done. That’s what I was talking about’.”
“Growing up, Thierry was my hero. He used to try stuff and pull it off, fantastic stuff. I remember that goal he scored against Tottenham in 2002, ran though the whole team.
“When he came back to Arsenal, I was a bit shy and nervous for the first two weeks. He was sat two spots away, with Theo Walcott in the middle. It was surreal.
“After two or three weeks, I realised he was a human being, no different to me or anyone else, a nice guy.
“The main thing I learnt from him was his will to win. I was sat on the bench with him and he was shouting away.
“He’s been there, done everything, so for him to come back to Arsenal, where he’s already a legend, and still want to win shows what makes him such a good player.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain has not been reaching those same early heights when he has been given a few chances in the Arsenal first team recently. Perhaps we need to tell Henry to give him a call before every match!