Football

Lee Dixon reveals what Thierry Henry told him about Manchester United star Anthony Martial


Manchester United star Anthony Martial has often been compared to Arsenal great Thierry Henry (Picture: Getty)

Lee Dixon has lifted the lid on a recent conversation he had with Thierry Henry in which the legendary Frenchman compared the struggles he experienced at the beginning of his Arsenal career to Anthony Martial’s mixed start at Manchester United.

Martial burst onto the scene in England with a goal on his United debut against bitter rivals Liverpool and was immediately likened to fellow countryman Henry but the 24-year-old has flattered to deceive since then until a promising return to form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season.

The forward was well on course to beat his best ever strike tally (17) in United colours – netting 16 times in all competitions before English football was put on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic – and Henry clearly believes his compatriot is capable of finding another gear after that if he fulfils his potential.

Like Martial, Henry had an inconstant start to life in the Premier League but the now iconic striker was soon ripping up defences up and down the country after some tough love from an experienced Arsenal’s squad which included the likes of Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn and David Seaman.

Thierry Henry sees similarities between him and Martial (Picture: Getty)

However, Henry feels United’s current dressing room lacks the battle-hardened and imposing characters who would be able to guide Martial through in the same way.

Speaking on Arsenal podcast Handbrake Off, club legend Dixon explained: ‘I talked about that with him [Henry] recently. We did some work together with Amazon Prime when they had the two games around Christmas time. I presumed he knew Martial because they’re from the same area in France so I asked him about Martial.

‘I said, “What he’s like?” and he looked at me with that look that he does as if to say: “Have I not already spoken to you about this?”

‘And he said, “He’s exactly like I was when I came to Arsenal. He needs to go through the process like I did with you lot and I don’t know if the Manchester United dressing room is like that”. He said that was the making of him.

‘To liken himself to Martial or another player to him, it really painted a picture of what Martial was like and what his character was like because he’s super-talented like Thierry was and I think his development would have been similar.

‘I’m not saying he would have been as good as Thierry – but would have been similar if he had been in the old United dressing room with the characters like what we had in our dressing room. He certainly talks about that as a real learning lesson in his curve to get how brilliant he was.’

Thierry Henry was taught right from wrong by players like Dixon (Picture: Getty)

Dixon added: ‘No, we didn’t kick the ball and think what he was thinking in his head but we channeled it into the right areas at the right time and we wouldn’t put up with the stuff when he first came. His not training very hard, being a bit sulky… that wasn’t allowed.

‘You’re not allowed to come into our workplace and be like that. It wasn’t a case of allowing him a certain amount of leeway here and there.

‘It was: this is how it’s done, this is The Arsenal, this is how we dress, this is how we train and this is what we behave like. If you’re in, you’re in and you’ll be one of mates. if you’re not, you’re not.

‘I think that was a big thing for him.’

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