Barcelona's Thierry Henry admitted on Sunday that he'll always be an Arsenal fan despite hoping to deliver a knockout blow to his former club's Champions League hopes this week.
Barcelona travel to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday for the first leg of their quarter-final tie, with the 32-year-old French striker insisting it will be an emotional evening. Henry has not had to face Arsenal since he joined the Spanish giants in June 2007 in a four-year deal worth 24 million euros.
"Since I joined Barcelona I have only been back to Arsenal on one occasion. It was when they played Blackburn three or four months ago. I don't know how people will react," he said, adding he sees himself as an Arsenal supporter. "I will always be one. When Arsenal play and I can see the game you can be sure to find me in front of a television."
Henry was the English league's leading scorer on four occasions during his eight years in London. He was voted the best player in the Gunners' history in a recent online poll carried out on Arsenal's official club website.
"When you play in a team your aim is to give everything and after the people can look back and judge," he said when asked about the poll's results. "I have a special relationship with Arsenal fans. It is like a trophy. A trophy of affection."
Henry added that it will feel strange facing his old teammates although he is likely to start the game from the bench. "I am very emotional, but also keeping calm. It will be a strange game for me," he told Barcelona's TV station.
"Before the draw I said that I did not want to meet Arsenal. That was my wish. But now it is what we have been given and we will have to be at our best. I spent eight years at Arsenal. It would be like if Xavi left Barca and then returned one day. You prepare yourself, but it's strange. Even so, if I play I will give everything like I always have done."
European champions Barcelona will host Arsenal in the return leg on April 6.