Title Winners Feel The Shirt
“It wasn’t the fact that we qualified for the CL, it was the fact that we kicked them out and we went in… AGAIN” – I love this quote from Thierry Henry. It shows passion, it shows that he knows what it means to wear the red and white of Arsenal.
Thierry Henry as we all know is a true Arsenal legend, not just because of what he achieved on the pitch for Arsenal but also because of his passion for the club. He is an Arsenal man and as Bob Wilson famously said “once an Arsenal man, always an Arsenal man”. Not all of our ex-players show the same passion for Arsenal as Thierry does. In fact, in recent years I don’t think a lot of our team showed that they knew what it meant to play for Arsenal.
Adebayor, Gallas, Nasri and Van Persie are such players. The first three are abhorrent in their own right but the last is the worst of them all.
Adebayor left Arsenal for whatever reason; celebrated like crazy when he scored against us and then joined Tottenham. Gallas left Arsenal and joined Tottenham which is something you don’t do if you feel the shirt. Nasri claimed he wanted to win something with Arsenal, not with a money club, and then joined City. You don’t say the things he said and then leave for more money elsewhere.
The worst of the lot was Robin though for two reasons. Firstly, he joined United. You never join United. Secondly, the way he played and the way he led the club –let us not forget that he was a great captain for us that year – and the way he spoke about the club he had supported since childhood said that he knew exactly what it meant to play for the Arsenal shirt. And that is why his treachery is all the more worse than the others.
But these are just a few of the players that didn’t know what it meant to play for the shirt and easy targets because of the way they left or who they play for. Other players like Santos, Denilson, Flamini, Hleb, Arshavin, Song, Reyes and Diarra also didn’t know what it meant to play for the shirt.
This isn’t an attack on those players and I have very fond memories of all of them and they served a purpose whilst they were here but it is important to know what it means to play for the shirt and to truly feel it.
In Thierry’s exclusive interview with Sky Sports he also said:
People gave them a go about the pictures and the celebration. But I can tell you I think it was more the fact, for any Arsenal player when you really feel the shirt and really play for that club, putting Tottenham out of the top 4, and I do hope that is what they were celebrating about because that’s the only thing you can celebrate about, if you’re an Arsenal man through and through that is like winning something for me. I said it when we did it to them also in 2006, it wasn’t the fact that we qualified for the Champions League, it was the fact that we kicked them out and we went in AGAIN
That’s what I believe when I look at the team we have now. When I look at the players I think will stay and be a part of the squad we will have next season I see players who feel the shirt, for one reason or another but whatever that reason is they feel it.
Players like Jack, Carl, Woj and Kieran know what it means to wear the shirt, to love the club, support the club. Players like Aaron, Theo, Alex and Per also know what it means to support the club belong to the Arsenal family. Players like Olivier and Laurent feel a special connection to the club, mostly through the manager but you can feel their love for the club growing, because Arsenal are a top team in the best league in the world and they’ve been chosen to play for this wonderful club despite their humble beginnings in football.
Players like Santi and Lukas feel the shirt because they feel the love from the fans and you can see on their faces that they are just so happy and grateful to be at Arsenal Football Club. Mikel you can tell is just so proud to be at a club like Arsenal, to have been given the chance to play for such an historic club and be an integral part of the team at this late stage in his career.
Then you have players like Bacary, Abou and Tomas who have been at the club a long time, long enough to appreciate what the shirt means, long enough to appreciate the way the club has stood by them during injuries – more so in the cases of Diaby and Rosicky.
Players like Nacho and Gervais may grow to love the club, they may already, but it’s not important if they don’t feel the shirt the way the others do because we have the others.
You’ve probably seen loads of blogs by now talking about how good this team is, the season reviews talking about the quality and improvements and I don’t need to do it as well but I will say that I think this team got to where they are this season because they feel the shirt. They got there because they know that anything less than 4th is a disaster for this club. They know that anything less than a trophy is a disappointment but they also know that St Totteringham’s Day is one of the most enjoyable days in a Gooners calendar so celebrating finishing 4th, ahead of Spurs… AGAIN, is worth celebrating.
Players who feel the shirt are much more likely to push themselves that little bit harder to win the game. The Invincibles had it, the 2002 double winners had it and the 1998 double winners had it.
If you ask me, I’d say the 2013/14 have it too…
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