Johan Djourou has recalled how he was in awe of Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry in Arsenal training, admitting he found himself admiring the talents of the iconic duo.
Djourou played alongside an array of talent during a decade spent with the north London side, making his debut shortly after the club’s famed ‘Invincibles’ season and training alongside Gunners’ greats Bergkamp and Henry.
Bergkamp played a crucial role in the early successes of the Arsene Wenger era and won two domestic doubles alongside that famed unbeaten campaign, whilst Henry is often regarded as the greatest player in Arsenal history after scoring a record 228 goals for the club in all competitions.
Djourou has now recalled his memories of working closely alongside the forwards, admitting he was often awestruck by their talents during training sessions.
“People sometimes ask me, ‘How did you deal with it’, because you’re training with Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry,” Djourou told Arsenal’s In Lockdown podcast. “Sometimes you see yourself watching them. That’s how good they were!
“I remember one day Dennis Bergkamp jumped two metres high and controlled the ball like it was nothing and I was like, ‘Wow’. I was thinking, ‘I need to get myself together because if I want to be part of this, or even have a slight chance of making it, I have to make it hard for them’.
“Thierry said to me, ‘What I like about you is that you’re not scared. You come here and if you have to tackle someone or push someone, you will do it because that’s the game.’ It was just about trying to get my nerves as calm as possible and enjoying myself.”