The former Everton and Nigeria defender pays tribute to the Frenchman who gave him the most trouble during his time in the Premier League

Joseph Yobo has revealed that former Arsenal star Thierry Henry is one of the toughest opponents he has ever faced during his playing days.

The legendary Nigeria centre-half has squared up to some of the greatest attackers since his first-team debut at Standard Liege in 2000.

Nevertheless, when it comes to mentioning his most difficult opponents, Yobo says the Frenchman stands heads and shoulders above many others.

During his time at Goodison Park, the new Super Eagles assistant coach crossed paths with the four-time Premier League Golden Boot winner on a regular basis.

In an Instagram live session with Franklin Ubi – special adviser to Cross River state governor on tourism, Yobo disclosed how David Moyes would appoint him to man-mark the Frenchman.

“I loved playing against Arsenal and they were one of my favourite teams. Even when I was injured, my manager would get me from injury and say ‘Hey Joe, you are the only one who can keep up with Thierry Henry. Get ready!’,” the ex-Olympique Marseille and Fenerbahce man said.  

“He had that confidence in me and my encounter with Henry was also enjoyable because he was one of the most difficult players I ever played against.

“He would stretch you and if you are not ready, he would embarrass you – that was how good he was.”

Henry took in 376 appearances for Arsenal, helping them to two Premier League titles – including the 2003-04 ‘Invincibles’ campaign and two FA Cup triumphs.

Like some have claimed, the 1998 World Cup inner reformed the role of central striker, with his blazing speed and inclination to drift wide marking him out as an exceptional talent.

“Basically, you have to be super ready when you are playing against someone like Henry because he had the skills, the techniques, then he had the speed,” Yobo continued.

“To play against him and to keep him locked down was always very difficult but I’m glad I did a great job [playing against him].

“He makes you work harder. From the start of the week, I start putting in work on how to play against him. I have played against him a couple of times, so I know what he can do.

“You have to be mentally ready and physically ready for him – if you miss any of those two, then you are in for a horrible day because he can score a hat-trick against you and still embarrass you as a player.”

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Having enjoyed a successful stint as an assistant coach to Roberto Martinez with Belgium, helping the nation finish third at the 2018 World Cup, Henry took his first steps in front-line management with Monaco in Ligue 1 in October 2018.

But he struggled to adapt to the demands at the Stade Louis II outfit, having won only four of 20 matches in charge.

Currently, he is the boss of Major League Soccer side Montreal Impact – a team he joined on a two-year deal in November 2019.

Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.

Shina Oludare

Chief Editor Nigeria

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