Former Arsenal star Lauren has opened up on how difficult it could be playing alongside the fiercely competitive Thierry Henry.
The pair were known to have had a couple of on-pitch bust-ups during their time with the Gunners, and it’s clear now that Lauren found Henry quite a testing character to be around.
Still, in an enlightening interview with the Guardian, the former Cameroon international also makes it clear that that is precisely why Henry became the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer, rather than just through sheer natural ability.
Henry was undoubtedly a great player to watch, but the Frenchman clearly worked incredibly hard to get to where he was, and also had such a strong winning mentality that drove him to the top.
“Why did Henry become Arsenal’s all-time top scorer? Talent? Because he was really good and a great athlete? No. Because he wanted to be the best every single day of his life,” Lauren said.
“He never ducked a game, never said ‘I’ve got a knock’. The session finished and he’d stay to take shots, practice diagonal runs.
“On the bus, Henry, me, Edu and Vieira played cards and Henry got angry if he lost. You can laugh but it was like that. If you didn’t give him the ball, if he didn’t score, he would get mad. It was horrific.
“I’ve had confrontations with Henry and Vieira, Vieira with Martin Keown, Keown with Henry, Henry with Ljungberg, everyone. There was one at Riazor against Deportivo when Henry stopped and raised his arms at me. Bloody hell …”
Lauren added that when Gilberto Silva first joined Arsenal he was shocked by how competitive the squad were, even in training sessions.
“You should have seen our training sessions,” he added. “It’s a good job journalists weren’t there; it would have been horrible. When Gilberto Silva came and saw how we trained …
“Martin Keown goes in hard and he’s unlucky enough to injure Rami Shaaban. We get to the dressing room and Gilberto says: ‘Bro, is everyone mad here?!’
“From the next day on, he never once took his shin pads off. And we’re talking Gilberto Silva, eh. We were hard, everyone wanted to win. And that showed on the pitch.”
How Arsenal could do with this kind of spirit now!