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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February, 2004, 14:35 GMT
Desailly hails Henry
Arsenal's Thierry Henry
Football Focus
Saturday, 1210 GMT, BBC One
Chelsea captain Marcel Desailly has tipped Arsenal striker and French team-mate Thierry Henry to establish himself as the world's best footballer.

The pair will come face to face on Sunday when Chelsea host Premiership leaders Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

"Thierry is unbelievable," Desailly told BBC One's Football Focus. "He has improved a lot and is still improving.

"He's not far from the best player in the world - he is going to be better than Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane."

Henry narrowly missed out to Real Madrid and France midfielder Zidane in Fifa's 2003 World Player of the Year award.

Earlier this month he reached a century of Premiership goals and has added seven goals in nine appearances for France.

It is a remarkable turnaround for a player who Juventus ditched within months of signing him in January 1999.

Henry made just 16 appearances in all for Juventus, scoring three times, before Arsene Wenger brought him to Arsenal in the summer of 1999.

Since then Henry has established himself into one of the deadliest strikers in the world - a transformation Desailly puts down to Henry's willingness to learn.

He said: "Thierry came into the national team in 1998 for the World Cup. He was 19 years old and he was already quick, but he has improved a lot since then.

"He has improved because he is an intelligent player. He is really clever in his lifestyle and also on the pitch.

"He has also been humble and has listened to what people around him are saying, especially Arsene Wenger. "

Chelsea's Marcel Desailly
"Thierry is unbelievable"

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