Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has revealed he did want to beat former Manchester United forward Ruud van Nistelrooy to the Golden Boot but never let their rivalry affect his on-pitch performances.
Speaking about his goalscoring battles with Henry, Nistelrooy said: "I wanted to compete with him, I needed to get my levels there.
"It was clear in my head when he left me in the stands that I was already starting the new season,’ he continued. ‘I was sitting there watching the game checking if Thierry scored. He wanted to get me fired up for the next season. I wanted to keep up with Thierry."
And being asked about the ex-United man's comments, Gunners legend told The Robbie Fowler Podcast: "Yes I did, because it’s normal. You’re battling against someone.
"I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect me, but it didn’t dictate me. It didn’t dictate my game.
"I knew what I had to do for my team, I wasn’t going to shoot from every angle just for the sake of beating Ruud – and he was a hell of a player, don’t get me wrong.
"The most important thing – as I always say – is we have to score. I don’t 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.
"You look at it, I didn’t score a lot of goals at Arsenal in my career where we lost the game. Those goals – I’m still taking them, don’t take them away from me! – but those goals didn’t mean anything for me.
"The goals that I scored and we lost, they didn’t mean anything for me. Like I wasn’t going, “You know what, I’ve done my job, we lost 3-2 but I scored two goals, I don’t care”.
"No I cared. I cared because I didn’t do enough – and that’s how you should feel as an individual.
"So yes, did I look at Van Nistelrooy’s goals? Yes! Did I look at if Man United had won? Yes! It’s the same thing. It’s not always individual, we were battling with them so obviously I’m looking at what Man United did after the game.
"Then I’m battling with Ruud van Nistelrooy, and I’m looking at that.
"And, at the time, people didn’t care too much about assists, so I wasn’t looking at who was making assists or not. It became a thing recently, in the past four or five years everyone is showing assists, goal involvement and this and that.
"So yes I did look at it, but that wasn’t going to dictate the person and the player I was going to be."
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