Nicklas Bendtner was ‘taught a lesson’ early in his Arsenal career by Thierry Henry, who he once revealed tore him a new one in a training ground row.
Bendtner, who announced his retirement from football in June 2021, arrived in north London as a talented, but cocksure, 17-year-old after leaving his hometown of Copenhagen and quickly made an impression in the youth ranks.
A record of 12 goals in 18 games for the Gunners’ Under-18s side, followed by five goals for the reserves, led to him quickly being promoted to the senior team after just one year at the Premier League side.
But the young Dane was also quickly put in his place following his arrival with the big boys, as he rubbed a number of the club’s top stars up the wrong way.
And one of them happened to be Henry, who gave the youngster an earful when he bit back at the legend during training.
“Long story short, he put me in my place,” Bendtner told the talkSPORT Breakfast show in 2020.
“I come from a place where you speak up and you stand up for yourself, and I think Thierry had that, too.
“Obviously he was the greatest striker and one of the biggest personalities and players in the Premier League at that moment.
“So he definitely taught me a lesson…”
Bendtner revealed the episode in his book, ‘Both Sides’, which features plenty of juicy tales from his Arsenal career.
One of the best is his bust-up with Henry, which came about during a training session.
The Dane explains they were playing a game of two-touch in training, when a young Bendtner complained Henry had made three touches, which prompted a response of ‘play on for f***’s sake’ from assistant boss Pat Rice.
“But Henry has heard me,” he writes. “He turns in my direction and puts his finger over his lips: ‘Sssssssh.’”
Moments later, Bendtner also touched the ball three times, and then complained ‘big time’ when a free-kick was given against him.
“Henry tells me to shut up,” he continued.
“This time with a lot of swear words included. And in hindsight it is good advice. But I am not taking it on. I shout back that he is the one who should shut up.
“Then he runs over and confronts me, yells right into my face and tells me to p*** off, says all kinds of things. He totally ignores the fact that the game is going on around us.
“Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell get involved: ‘Carry on, Nicklas, keep on running and shut your mouth’.”
And it appears that’s exactly what he did.
Henry then pulled him over to one side after the session and have him a ‘two-hour monologue’ about the attitude of a professional footballer.
And Bendtner says he learned a lot from his dressing down from the Emirates icon.
“Afterwards he took me to the side and explained to me how it is to be a professional player, and you can’t just come as a young kid and try to speak out on the pitch,” he told talkSPORT.
“That was something that I learned a lot from.
“It was also a quite funny story, because as a young kid you should probably just keep your head down, and not say anything to the big stars…”