Becks and Thierry Henry hit the training ground

Jan 12, 2011
Bill Mann

Golden oldies stay fit in north London: will Henry be able to teach Walcott a trick or two?

The Premier League rolled back the years yesterday as two of its most illustrious former players reappeared on the scene looking a little older and, in the case of David Beckham, a lot hairier.

The England and Manchester United legend, who left Old Trafford for Real Madrid in 2003, took part in his first training session at Tottenham amid the usual glare of publicity. If the latest reports are to be believed, the 35-year-old midfielder is in London only to train ahead of rejoining LA Galaxy in March.

It had been hoped by Spurs boss Harry Redknapp that Beckham might turn out in a few games, but apparently LA Galaxy vetoed that particular idea after Golden Balls ruptured his Achilles while on loan with AC Milan last year.

Meanwhile in the red and white half of north London, Arsenal fans were rejoicing at the confirmation that Thierry Henry was indeed back in town and training with the Gunners. Like Beckham, the 33-year-old Frenchman has gone Stateside to try his luck in the Major Soccer League [MLS] – in his case with the New York Red Bulls – but he's been invited by Arsene Wenger to train with Arsenal for a few weeks before the resumption of the MLS.

Henry spent eight glorious seasons with Arsenal between 1999 and 2007, during which time he scored 226 goals in 370 games, and judging by the statement issued on the Gunners' website they're delighted to see him back, albeit temporarily. “Thierry Henry is back at Arsenal. The Gunners legend returned to London Colney on Monday to train with Arsene Wenger's squad. The short-term arrangement will help Henry maintain his fitness ahead of the new MLS campaign, which begins in March.”

By inviting Henry to train with his young squad, Wenger isn't just helping out a fellow Frenchman; in return he'll be asking France's record goal-scorer to pass on some pearls of wisdom to the likes of Nicklas Bendtner, Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh.

In particular, the Arsenal manager will hope Henry can fine-tune aspects of Theo Walcott's game now that Wenger sees the 21-year-old Englishman as a striker and not a winger. When Henry arrived at Highbury from Juventus in 1999 he was considered a winger, but Wenger transformed him into one of the world's finest forwards.

It's not the first time Wenger has allowed a blast from the past to waft through the Arsenal dressing room: Sol Campbell trained and played with the team last seasopn – and may be back yet again, according to yesterday's Transfer Talk - while earlier this season Robert Pires trained with the Gunners squad for a brief while before joining Aston Villa.

No doubt Harry Redknapp will hope David Beckham takes time out to pass on words of advice to players such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, but according to the Daily Telegraph the Spurs manager is also pursing an erstwhile Manchester United team-mate of Beckham's – Phil Neville now of Everton.

The 33-year-old might not possess much in the way of glamour but he has bucketloads of experience and it's this quality that Redknapp apparently cherishes. The Telegraph says that talented as his young Spurs side undoubtedly is, Redknapp knows he needs more wise heads at the back in the second half of the season, especially as Tottenham prepare to take on AC Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League.

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