Arsenal football club moved into the 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium in 2006, departing from the old Highbury Stadium which was just around the corner. The Emirates was built by a group of architects known as HOK Sport who had also built the Estádio da Luz for Benfica, the biggest club in Portugal. Surprisingly, most people are still unaware of the fact that these two stadiums are virtually identical from the inside. From the outside however, they are different. At the Emirates you will find a handful of statues dedicated to Arsenal legends. The most notable are of three players; Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry.
Tony Adams spent his entire career playing at Arsenal as a central defender. He was the club captain and famous for being a fighter who kept the rest of the defence organised. For long periods of his career, he had made the headlines for his alcohol problems off the pitch. By 1998 however, he was fit and sobre, and experienced his most memorable moment as Arsenal captain by scoring an incredible goal against Everton on the day Arsenal won the Premier League. Having overcome his demons, he celebrated emotionally with his eyes closed and his arms outstretched, a moment now immortalised in bronze.
Dennis Bergkamp was perhaps the most technically gifted player to have ever played for Arsenal. It is believed that the term ‘shadow-striker’ was invented in reference to him; a shadow-striker is someone who plays just behind the main striker, troubling opposition defenders whilst both scoring and assisting goals. His statue showcases his ballet-like ability to control the ball in mid-air, and was taken from a photo of a game verses Newcastle in 2003.
Thierry Henry is Arsenal’s all-time greatest goalscorer, having scored 228 goals for the club. His story at the club is like a fairy tale. Having won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups, he left in 2007 for Barcelona and shed tears over his departure. In 2011, he was given a statue at the Emirates, based on his warrior-like goal celebration against arch-rivals Tottenham in 2002. In 2012 however, whilst playing out his final footballing days in New York, he was asked to rejoin the club temporarily as a favour. Arsenal were struggling at the time and needed help from somewhere. In what seemed like something that had been written in the stars, Henry came off the bench and scored the winning goal almost immediately. The Emirates stadium erupted and the record books had to be re-written.
It can often be difficult to get tickets to an Arsenal match because of the high demand but the Arsenal Stadium Tour and Museum is an easy option and a great day out, even for people who are not football fans or Gooners (a ‘Gooner’ means an Arsenal fan). Football after all, is and always will be an unbreakable part of English culture, and Arsenal are the biggest football club in London.
“Arsenal is in my blood as well as my heart. I will always, always, always remember you guys. I said I was going to be a Gooner for life and I did not lie because when you are a Gooner, you will always be a Gooner. This club is in my heart and will remain in my heart forever.” - Thierry Henry
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