Ray Parlour has admitted he was not convinced by Thierry Henry when he first joined Arsenal.
Henry is regarded as one of the club’s greatest ever players but didn’t have it all his own way when he arrived in England.
He arrived from Juventus for a fee of £11million in August 1999 but initially struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League.
His former teammate Parlour recalled on Tuesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast: “In his first five or six games he couldn’t hit a barn door. He just couldn’t finish.
“I was thinking: ‘Oh no, we’re not going to win the league, we haven’t got a chance!’”
Henry eventually broke his Arsenal scoring duck in his ninth Gunners game, a splendid long-range strike at Southampton.
Parlour added: “Then all of a sudden he scored his first goal, and what a cracking goal, against Southampton at the Dell, and that was it.
“He was very quiet when he first came to Arsenal, and you’re going to be when you’re 22 and you’re coming to another country. You’ve got to get used to it.
“He used to sit next to me – Terry Henry I called him!
“But he was lucky because there were a lot of French guys in the squad – Gilles Grimandi, Remi Garde, Patrick Vieira, Manu Petit, and then Sylvain Wiltord turned up and Robert Pires the following year, so he settled in a lot quicker.”
Needless to say, Henry changed Parlour’s mind and later became Arsenal’s record goalscorer with 228 strikes in all competitions.
Parlour said how it was a match against Liverpool during Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ season that made him realise just how brilliant Henry was.
He added: “What a player he turned out to be! He could win a game on his own.
“The game that always sticks out in my mind was during the unbeaten season. We got knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester United and then we lost to Chelsea in the Champions League, and we had Liverpool in the league at the weekend.
“At half time we were 2-1 down, so it could have been a horrendous week, but in the second-half Henry was absolutely unplayable. That’s the game where he dribbled past Didi Hamann, Jamie Carragher fell over and just slid the ball into the corner. He ended up with a hat-trick and we won 4-2!
“I was very lucky to play with some brilliant finishers and I thought nobody could beat Ian Wright ‘s scoring record, but Thierry beat it by 50-odd goals!
“What a player!”