Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has admitted he used to check if Ruud van Nistelrooy had scored after every game when the pair used to battle for the Premier League’s Golden Boot award.
Henry won four Golden Boots during his time in the English top-flight for the Gunners – in 2001/02, 2003/04, 2004/05 and 2005/06.
Former Manchester United and Holland striker Van Nistelrooy won the award just once, though – back in the 2002/03 season, where he beat his rival by a single goal.
The pair often fought it out for the individual honour and Henry has now opened up about the rivalry and the impact it had on his game.
The ex- Gunners forward was asked on The Robbie Fowler Podcast if he used to check if van Nistelrooy had scored, and replied: “Yes, I did because it’s normal – you’re battling with someone. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me but it didn’t dictate me or my game.
“I knew what I had to do for my team. I wasn’t going to shoot from every angle just to beat Ruud.
“He was a hell of a player, don’t get me wrong. I’ll always say that we have to score, not I have to score.
“More often than not, it would be me but the team has to score, not me. We have to win, not me.
The two-time Premier League champion continued: “If you look at it, I didn’t score a lot of goals in my career at Arsenal and then we lost the game.
“Those goals, I’m taking them, but those goals didn’t mean anything for me when we lost.
“I wasn’t like: ‘I have done my job, scored my goals, but we lost 3-2’, no, it wasn’t like that.
“I cared because I didn’t do enough and that’s how you should feel as an individual.
“Yes, did I look at if Van Nistelrooy scored? Yes. Did I look at if Manchester United won? Yes.
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“Obviously I’m looking at whether Man United won a game, then I’m looking at Ruud because we were battling.
“At the time, people didn’t care too much about assists, so I wasn’t looking at who was making assists. It became a thing recently, in the last four or five years.
“I did look at it, but that was not going to dictate the person and the player I was going to be.”