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Striker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas aims to use tips from French legend Thierry Henry to hit the goal trail with Aberdeen

Aberdeen's Jay Emmanuel-Thomas at Cormack Park.
Aberdeen's Jay Emmanuel-Thomas at Cormack Park.

Striker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas plans to use lessons learnt from French legend Thierry Henry to hit the goal trail with Aberdeen.

The 30-year-old is set to make his first appearance for the Dons in a closed door friendly against Inverness Caley Thistle at Cormack Park on Thursday.

Emmanuel-Thomas, aka JET, and United States international Christian Ramirez were signed by boss Stephen Glass this summer to add fire-power.

Having signed a two year deal Emmanue- Thomas recently said he aims to hit between 20 to 25 goals in his debut season with Aberdeen.

As a teenager Emmanuel-Thomas trained alongside legend Henry at Arsenal and picked up invaluable lessons from the 1998 World Cup winner.

The former Livingston striker aims to utilise those tips in the hunt for goals at Aberdeen.

He said: “I had numerous conversations with Thierry Henry when I was younger about playing as a striker.

“Speaking to people like Thierry Henry I collected information, retained it and crafted certain aspects of my game off things that he told me.

“That was probably the best part of my career in terms of taking advantage.”

Goal reminiscent of Henry’s stunner

Emmanuel-Thomas recently illustrated Henry’s influence when netting a superb flick and volley in Livingston’s 2-1 Premiership defeat of Hamilton on March 13.

The goal was reminiscent of Henry’s memorable strike in Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat of Manchester United at Highbury in October 2000.

 

In the aftermath of scoring that goal against Hamilton earlier Emmanuel-Thomas admitted he was thinking about emulating Henry’s strike when the ball sat up for him.

During his time at Arsenal former England youth international Emmanuel-Thomas also played alongside legendary Dutch striker Robin van Persie.

Switch from centre-back to striker

However Emmanuel-Thomas initially began his career as a centre-half and made his Arsenal first team debut in that defensive role.

That time spent at the back provided valuable understanding of how a defender thinks and moves – and he aims to exploit that knowledge.

Emmanuel-Thomas also revealed talks with 2003 Ballon d’0r runner up and current Belgium assistant coach Henry were the catalyst for his switch to striker.

He said: “My talks with Henry were before I actually moved into playing as a striker as I had played centre-half for the whole of my career.

“I made my debut for Arsenal at centre-half which was frustrating as I didn’t enjoy playing there.

“Obviously it helped me learn different aspects of the game and what defenders like and what they don’t like.”

Preparing for Euro action – Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (R) during an Aberdeen training session at Cormack Park

Dons buy into how Glass wants to play

Emmanuel-Thomas is one of six new signings this summer alongside Ramirez, Scott Brown, Declan Gallagher, Teddy Jenks and Jack Gurr.

The restructured squad have been put through their paces in pre-season training by Glass in preparation for the Uefa Europa Conference League clash with BK Hacken at Pittodrie on Thursday July 22.

BK Hacken moved off the foot of the Swedish Allsvenskan at the weekend with a 2-1 home defeat of AIK, the first game after the top flight’s recent summer break.

Aberdeen gaffer Glass has promised supporters he will deliver vibrant, attacking and entertaining football in the upcoming campaign.

Despite the large turnover in players during the summer Emmanuel-Thomas is confident the squad have gelled quickly and will be ready to deliver the football style, and wins, that Glass demands.

He said: “The boys have made me and the rest of the players who have come in all feel welcome.

“Everybody has a smile on their face. It has been a great first few weeks.

“We have our first game coming up and we have to buy into what the manager wants and how he wants to play.

“Managers have different styles and it is all about contributing what you bring.

“I will do what the manager wants and hopefully it will all come together and help our performances when the games start.

“I look forward to the fans coming back and being able to perform in front of them at our home stadium.”

Friendship with Scott Brown

Emmanuel-Thomas has already forged a friendship with former Celtic and Scotland skipper Brown since arriving at the club.

Brown rejected the offer of a new contract at Parkhead to commit to a two year contract at Pittodrie in a player-coach role.

The veteran midfielder, 36, won 21 trophies during his time at Celtic.

Emmanuel-Thomas hopes to bring that bond onto the pitch when the new season begins.

Friends and team-mates Scott Brown and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas during an Aberdeen training session
New signings Scott Brown and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas during pre-season training.

Emmanuel-Thomas said: “We hadn’t really spoken before I came here.

“I saw Scott in Edinburgh three days before I came up to sign.

“We got on really well and we had a laugh.

“Since then, things have grown quite well and hopefully we can take that same relationship on to the pitch.”

 

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