The eyes of the world were on France this summer as 24 nations competed for the title of the best in Europe, but legendary ex-player Thierry Henry had a different game on his mind – the 2009 Champions League final. To put it in his own words “For me, my moment, my special moment is that final”.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers of all time, there was one medal missing for Henry. He’d been a world champion with France, and lifted top trophies both in his home country and England, but the Champions League had eluded him. He’d played in the final once before, ironically against the club he now played for – Arsenal suffering a heartbreaking late defeat to Barcelona in 2006.
But such elite players do not dwell on these things when getting ready for a big game, and this was no exception. As well as being totally prepared on the pitch, manager Pep Guardiola was making sure everything was perfect off of it. Henry commented “Sometimes you think a bit too much about the game when you’re alone in your room”.
Guardiola had thought of this, and invited the families of the players to stay in the hotel on the night of the game. Now rather than thinking about how he would match up to the fearsome Manchester United defence, Henry was able to relax with his brother, girlfriend and numerous friends around him. He said “The preparation was spot on”, and the proof was in the pudding as the Catalan giants lifted the trophy following a 2 – 0 victory.
Henry lifted the trophy high into the Rome sky, as golden confetti fell all around him. He had finally won the trophy that had eluded him all this time, and his place in the history books was secure. Even though he has been out of the game for a few years after finishing his career in the United States, the memories of this particular game are still strong. Booking.com was able to bring him back to the exact hotel room he stayed in on that night before the final, and he said “I can still feel it now” – speaking of the feelings of excitement and anticipation that come with such a game.
Thanks to the impeccable preparation of Barcelona, and the talent of the likes of Henry, Messi, Eto’o and more – whenever they think of Rome, instead of the Colosseum, Trevi fountain or the Pantheon, they will think of that special night where they themselves became immortals.