John Gregory's claim about Stan Collymore's talent is likely to raise eyebrows

The ex-Aston Villa manager says his former striker was better in many aspects than Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.

Former Aston Villa manager John Gregory is a popular figure amongst the club's supporters, but he is likely to raise one or two eyebrows with his claim to the club's official website that former striker Stan Collymore was a more talented player in many regards than Arsenal and Premier League legend Thierry Henry.

Collymore endured a rather frustrating time at his boyhood club in the late 1990s, failing to replicate the impressive form his showed at Nottingham Forest and Liverpool for the majority of his three years at Villa Park.

He arrived for a then-club-record fee of £7 million from Anfield in 1997, but scored only 15 goals in 64 appearances in total for the club before moving to Leicester City in 2000.

In contrast, Henry scored 360 goals in 792 senior appearances in his career, 228 of which came in just 376 matches at Arsenal. The French striker has won league titles, a Champions League, and a World Cup; is the Gunners all-time record goalscorer, and the player with the fifth-most goals in Premier League history.

However, his former Villa manager Gregory believes that Collymore had as much talent as Henry - more, even, in some aspects of his game - and described the current pundit as the most talented player he has ever worked with.

Gregory told the Villa website: "Stan Collymore was the most talented footballer that I have ever worked with! He was quicker than Thierry Henry. He was better in the air than Thierry Henry. He had better feet than Thierry Henry.

"He was strong and powerful. He was so fit and healthy. What a player! He was the most talented. It was my biggest regret that he didn't produce it regularly enough."

Collymore showed flashes of brilliance during his career, such as his lethal partnership with Robbie Fowler at Anfield, and his UEFA Cup hat-trick against Stromsgodset for Villa.

However, off-field issues ultimately saw his career turn from what-could-be to what-might-have-been, despite the natural talent which was so clear to Gregory and others.

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