Thierry Daniel Henry (pronounced [tjɛʁi ɑ̃ˈʁi], born 17 August 1977) is a French football player. Renowned for his pace, goal-scoring record and ability to create assists, he plays as a striker for the French national team and FC Barcelona.
Henry was born and brought up in the tough neighbourhood of Les Ulis, Essonne—a suburb of Paris—where he played for an array of local sides as a youngster and showed great promise as a goal-scorer. He was spotted by AS Monaco in 1990 and signed instantly, making his professional debut in 1994. Good form led to an international call-up in 1998, after which he signed for the Italian defending champions Juventus. He had a disappointing season playing on the wing, before joining Arsenal for £10.5 million in 1999.
It was at Arsenal that Henry made his name as a world-class footballer. Despite initially struggling in the Premiership, he emerged as Arsenal's top goal-scorer for almost every season of his tenure there. Under long-time mentor and coach Arsène Wenger, Henry became a prolific striker and Arsenal's all-time leading scorer with 226 goals in all competitions. The Frenchman won two league titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners; he was twice nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year, was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, and the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year three times. Henry spent his final two seasons with Arsenal as club captain, leading them to the UEFA Champions League final in 2006. In June 2007, after eight years with Arsenal, he transferred to FC Barcelona for a fee of £16.1 million.
Henry has enjoyed similar success with the French national squad, having won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000. In October 2007, he surpassed Michel Platini's record to become France's top goal-scorer of all time. Off the pitch, as a result of his own experience, Henry is an active spokesperson against racism in football. His footballing style and personality have ensured that he is one of the most commercially marketable footballers in the world; he has been featured in advertisements for Nike, Reebok, Renault, Pepsi and Gillette.
Henry is of Antillean heritage: his father, Antoine, is from Guadeloupe (La Désirade island), and his mother, Maryse, is from Martinique. He was born and raised in a tough environment in the heavily urbanised Les Ulis district of Paris which, despite its hardships, provided good footballing facilities. As a seven-year-old, Henry showed great potential, prompting Claude Chezelle to recruit him to the local club CO Les Ulis. His father pressured him to attend training, although the youngster was not particularly drawn to football. He joined US Palaiseau in 1989, but after a year his father fell out with the club, so Henry moved to Viry-Châtillon for two years. US Palaiseau coach Jean-Marie Panza, Henry's future mentor, followed him there.
AS Monaco (1992–1999) and Juventus (1999)
In 1990, AS Monaco sent scout Arnold Catalano to watch Henry in a match. Henry scored all six goals as his side won 6–0. Catalano asked him to join Monaco without even attending a trial first. Catalano requested that Henry complete a course at the elite Clairefontaine academy, and despite the director's reluctance to admit Henry due to his poor school results, he was allowed to complete the course and joined Arsène Wenger's AS Monaco as a youth player. Subsequently, Henry signed professional forms with AS Monaco and made his professional debut in 1994. Wenger put Henry on the left wing because he believed that his pace, natural ball control and skill would be more effective against full-backs than centre-backs. In his first season with Monaco, Henry scored three goals in 18 appearances.
Wenger continued to search for the perfect playing position for Henry, and suspected that he should be deployed as a striker instead, but he was unsure. Under the tutelage of his manager, Henry was named the French Young Footballer of the Year in 1996, and in the 1996–97 season, his solid performances helped the club win the Ligue 1 title. During the 1997–98 season, he was instrumental in leading his club to the UEFA Champions League semi-final, setting a French record by scoring seven goals in the competition. By his third season, he had received his first cap for the national team, and was part of the winning team in the 1998 World Cup. He continued to impress at his tenure with Monaco, and in his five seasons with the French club, the young winger scored 20 league goals in 105 appearances.
Henry left Monaco in January 1999, one year before his friend and teammate David Trezeguet, and moved to Italian Serie A club Juventus for £10.5 million. He played on the wing, but he was ineffective against the Serie A defensive discipline in a position uncharacteristic for him, and scored just three goals in 16 appearances.
Unsettled in Italy, Henry transferred from Juventus in August 1999 to Arsenal for £10.5 million, reuniting with his former manager Arsène Wenger. It was at Arsenal that Henry made his name as a world-class footballer, and although his transfer was not without controversy, Wenger was convinced he was worth the transfer fee. Brought in as a replacement for fellow French forward Nicolas Anelka, Henry was immediately moulded into a striker by Wenger, a move that would pay rich dividends in years to come. However, doubts were raised about his ability to adapt to the quick and physical English game when he failed to score in his first eight games. After several difficult months in England, Henry even conceded that he had to "be re-taught everything about the art of striking." These doubts were dispelled when he ended his first season at Arsenal with an impressive goal tally of 26. Arsenal finished second in the league behind Manchester United, and lost in the UEFA Cup final against Turkish side Galatasaray.
Henry in a game against Charlton Athletic in 2006
Coming off the back of a victorious Euro 2000 campaign with the national side, Henry was ready to make an impact in the 2000–01 campaign. Despite recording fewer goals and assists than his first season, Henry's second season with Arsenal proved to be a breakthrough, as he became the club's top goal-scorer. Armed with one of the league's best offences, Arsenal closed in quickly on perennial rivals Manchester United for the league title. Henry remained frustrated however by the fact that he had yet to help the club win honours, and frequently expressed his desire to establish Arsenal as a powerhouse.
Success finally arrived during the 2001–02 season. Arsenal finished seven points above Liverpool to win the league title, and defeated Chelsea 2–0 in the FA Cup Final. Henry became the league's top goal-scorer and netted 32 goals in all competitions as he led Arsenal to a double and his first silverware with the club. There was much expectation that Henry would replicate his club form for France during the 2002 World Cup, but the defending champions suffered a shock exit at the group stage.
2002–03 proved to be another productive season for Henry, as he scored 42 goals in all competitions while contributing 23 assists—remarkable returns for a striker. In doing so, he led Arsenal to another FA Cup triumph. Throughout the season, he competed with Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy for the league scoring title, but the latter edged Henry to the title by a goal. Nonetheless, Henry was named both the PFA Players' Player of the Year and Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year. His rising status as one of the world's best footballers was affirmed when he emerged runner-up for the 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year award.
Henry was made captain following the departure of fellow Frenchman Patrick Vieira to Juventus in 2005.
Entering the 2003–04 season, Arsenal were determined to reclaim the Premiership crown. Henry was again instrumental in Arsenal's exceptionally successful campaign; together with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pirès, Henry ensured that the Gunners became the first team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league campaign unbeaten, claiming the league title in the process. Apart from being named for the second year running as the PFA Players' Player of the Year and Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year, Henry emerged once again as the runner-up for 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year award. With 39 goals scored in all competitions, the Frenchman led the league in goals scored and won the European Golden Boot. However, as was the case in 2002, Henry was unable to lead the national side to honours during Euro 2004.
This dip in success was compounded when Arsenal failed again to secure back-to-back league titles when they lost out to Chelsea in the 2004–05 season, although the club did win the FA Cup. Henry maintained his reputation as one of Europe's most feared strikers as he led the league in scoring, and with 31 goals in all competitions, he was the co-recipient (with Diego Forlán) of the European Golden Boot, and is currently the only player to have officially won the award twice in a row (Ally McCoist's also had two Golden Boots in a row, but both were "unofficial". The unexpected departure of compatriot Vieira in mid-2005 led to Henry being awarded club captaincy, a role which many felt was not naturally suited for him; the captaincy is more commonly given to defenders or midfielders, who are better-placed on the pitch to read the game. Along with being chief goal-scorer, he was responsible for leading a very young team which had yet to gel fully.
The 2005–06 season proved to be one of remarkable personal achievements for Henry. On 17 October 2005, Henry became the club's top goal-scorer of all time; two goals against Sparta Prague in the Champions League meant he broke Ian Wright's record of 185 goals. On February 1, 2006, he scored a goal against West Ham, bringing his league goal tally up to 151, breaking Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin's league goals record. Henry scored his 100th league goal at Highbury, a feat unparalleled in the history of the club, and a unique achievement in the Premier League. He completed the season as the league's top goal-scorer, and for the third time in his career, he was voted the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year.
After the retirement of Dennis Bergkamp, Henry regularly partnered Robin van Persie up front in the Arsenal attack.
Nevertheless, Arsenal failed to win the league title again, but hopes of a trophy were revived when Arsenal reached the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final. The Gunners eventually lost 2–1 to FC Barcelona, and Arsenal's inability to win the Premiership for two consecutive seasons combined with the relative inexperience of the Arsenal squad caused much speculation that Henry would leave for another club. However, he declared his love for the club and accepted a four-year contract, and said he would stay at Arsenal for life. Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein later claimed the club had turned down two bids of £50 million from Spanish clubs for Henry before the signing of the new contract. Had the transfer materialised, it would have surpassed the world record £47 million paid for Zinedine Zidane.
Henry's 2006–07 season was marred by injuries. Although he scored 10 goals in 17 domestic appearances for Arsenal, Henry's season was cut short in February. Having missed games due to hamstring, foot, and back problems, he was deemed fit enough to come on as a late substitute against PSV Eindhoven in a Champions League match, but began limping shortly after coming on. Scans the next day revealed that he would need at least three months to heal from new groin and stomach injuries, missing the rest of the 2006–07 season. Wenger attributed Henry's injuries to a protracted 2005–06 campaign, and reiterated that Henry was keen on staying with the Gunners to rebuild for the 2007–08 season.
On June 25, 2007, in an unexpected turn of events, Henry was transferred to FC Barcelona for €24 million. He signed a four-year deal for a reported €6.8 (£4.6) million per season. It was revealed that the contract included a release clause of €125 (£84.9) million. Henry cited the departure of Dein and continued uncertainty over Wenger's future as reasons for leaving, and maintained that "I always said that if I ever left Arsenal it would be to play for Barcelona." Despite their captain's departure, Arsenal got off to an impressive start for the 2007–08 campaign, and Henry admitted that his presence in the team might have been more of a hindrance than a help. He stated: "Because of my seniority, the fact that I was captain and my habit of screaming for the ball, they would sometimes give it to me even when I was not in the best position. So in that sense it was good for the team that I moved on." Henry left Arsenal as the club's all-time league goal-scorer with 174 goals and all-time goal-scorer in Europe with 42 goals.
Training with Barça
At Barcelona, Henry was given the number 14 jersey, the same number he had previously worn at Arsenal. He scored his first goal for his new club on 19 September 2007 in a Champions League match against Lyon, which Barcelona won 3–0; on 29 September 2007 in a La Liga match against Levante, he recorded his first hat-trick for Barcelona. However, with Henry mostly deployed on the wing throughout the season, he was unable to reproduce the goal-scoring form he achieved with Arsenal. Barcelona was also unable to win any silverware for the second year running, leading to much uncertainty surrounding the Catalan club. Henry concluded his debut season as club's overall top scorer with 19 goals, ahead of Samuel Eto'o (18 goals) and Lionel Messi (16 goals).
Henry has had a successful career with the French national team. His international career began in June 1997, when his good form for Monaco was rewarded with a call-up to the Under-20 French national team, where he played in the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship alongside future teammates William Gallas and David Trezeguet. Within four months, France head coach Aimé Jacquet called Henry up to the senior team. The 20-year-old made his senior international debut on October 11, 1997 in a 2–1 win against South Africa. Jacquet was so impressed with Henry that he took him to the 1998 World Cup. Although Henry was a largely unknown quantity at international level, he ended the tournament as France's top scorer with three goals. He was scheduled to appear as a substitute in the final, where France beat Brazil 3–0, but Marcel Desailly's sending off forced a defensive change instead. On Bastille Day 1998, he was awarded France's highest decoration, the Légion d'Honneur.
Henry was a member of France's Euro 2000 championship squad, again scoring three goals in the tournament, including the equaliser against Portugal in the semi-final, and finishing as the country's top scorer. France later won the game in extra time following a converted penalty kick by Zinedine Zidane. France went on to defeat Italy in extra time in the final, earning Henry his second major international medal.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup featured a stunning early exit for both Henry and France as the defending champions were eliminated in the group stage after failing to score a goal in all three games. France lost their first match in group play and Henry was red carded for a dangerous sliding challenge in their next match against Uruguay. In that game, France played to a 0–0 draw, but Henry was forced to miss the final match due to suspension; France lost 2–0 to Denmark.
Henry returned to form for his country at the 2003 Confederations Cup. Despite playing without team stalwarts Zinedine Zidane and Patrick Vieira, France won, in large part owing to Henry's outstanding play, for which he was named Man of the Match by FIFA's Technical Study Group in three of France's five matches. In the final, he scored the golden goal in extra time to lift the title for the host country after a 1–0 victory over Cameroon. Henry was awarded both the adidas Golden Ball as the outstanding player of the competition and the adidas Golden Shoe as the tournament's top goal-scorer with four goals.
In Euro 2004, Henry played in all of France's matches and scored two goals. France beat England in the group stages but lost to the eventual winners Greece 1–0 in the quarter-finals. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup Henry remained as one of the automatic starters in the squad. He played as a lone striker, but despite an indifferent start to the tournament, became one of the top players of the World Cup. He scored three goals, including France's goal against returning champion and tournament favourite Brazil. However, France subsequently lost to Italy on penalties (5–3) in the final. Henry did not take part in the penalty shootout, having been substituted in extra time after his legs had cramped. Henry was one of 10 nominees for the Golden Ball award for Player of the Tournament, an award which was ultimately presented to his teammate, Zidane and was named a starting striker on the 2006 FIFPro World XI team.
On 13 October 2007, Henry scored his 41st goal against the Faroe Islands, joining Michel Platini as the country's top goal-scorer of all time. Four days later at the Stade de la Beaujoire, he scored a late double against Lithuania, thereby setting a new record as France's top goal-scorer. On 3 June 2008, Henry made his 100th appearance for national team in match against Colombia.
Henry missed the opening game of France's shortlived Euro 2008 campaign, where they were eliminated in the group stages after being grouped together with Italy, Holland and Romania. He scored France's only goal in the competition in a 4–1 loss to Holland.
Style of play
Henry was the first-choice free kick taker for Arsenal.
Although Henry played up front as a striker during his youth, he spent his time at Monaco and Juventus playing on the wing. When Henry joined Arsenal in 1999, Wenger immediately changed this, switching Henry to his childhood position, often pairing him with Dutch veteran Dennis Bergkamp. During the 2004–05 season, Wenger switched Arsenal's formation to 4-5-1. This change forced Henry to adapt again to fit into the Arsenal team, and he played many games as a lone striker. Still, Henry remained Arsenal's main offensive threat, on many occasions conjuring spectacular goals. Wenger once said of his fellow Frenchman: "Thierry Henry could take ball in the middle of park and score a goal that no one else in the world could score".
One of the reasons cited for Henry's impressive play up front is his ability to calmly score from one-on-ones. This, combined with his remarkable pace, means that he can get in behind defenders regularly enough to score. When up front, Henry is occasionally known to move out wide to the left wing position, something which enables him to contribute heavily in assists: between 2002–03 and 2004–05, the striker managed almost 50 assists in total and this was attributed to his unselfish play and creativity. Given his versatility in being able to operate as both a winger and a striker, Henry is not a prototypical "out-and-out striker", but he has emerged consistently as one of Europe's most prolific strikers. In set pieces, Henry was the first-choice penalty and free kick taker for Arsenal, having scored regularly from those positions.
Henry has received many plaudits and awards in his football career. He was runner-up for the 2003 and 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year award; in those two seasons, he also won back-to-back PFA Players' Player of the Year titles. Henry is the only player ever to have won the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year three times (2003, 2004, 2006), and the French Player of the Year on a record four occasions. Henry was voted into the Premier League Overseas Team of the Decade in the 10 Seasons Awards poll in 2003, and in 2004 he was named by football legend Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers.
In terms of goal-scoring awards, Henry was the European Golden Boot winner in 2004 and 2005 (sharing it with Villarreal's Diego Forlán in 2005) and is the first ever player to retain the award. Henry has also been the top goal-scorer in the Premiership for four seasons (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006). In 2006, he became the first player to score more than 20 goals in the league for five consecutive seasons (2002 to 2006). Henry is currently third in the list of all-time English Premiership goal-scorers, behind Alan Shearer and Andy Cole. Given his accomplishments, France's all-time goal-scorer is today regarded by many coaches, footballers and pundits as one of the best footballers in the world. In November 2007, he was ranked 33rd on the Association of Football Statisticians' compendium for "Greatest Ever Footballers".
Personal and family life
Henry married English model Nicole Merry on 5 July 2003. The ceremony was held at Highclere Castle, and on 27 May 2005 the couple celebrated the birth of their first child, Téa. Henry dedicated his first goal since Téa's birth to her by holding his fingers in a "T" shape and kissing them after scoring in a match against Newcastle United. When Henry was still at Arsenal, he also purchased a home in Hampstead, North London. However, shortly after his transfer to Barcelona, it was announced that Henry and his wife would divorce; the decree nisi was granted in September 2007.
As a fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Henry is often seen with his friend Tony Parker at games when not playing football. Henry stated in an interview that he admires basketball, as it is similar to football in pace and excitement. Having made regular trips to the NBA Finals in the past, he went to watch Parker and the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals; and in the 2001 NBA Finals, he went to Philadelphia to help with French television coverage of the Finals as well as to watch Allen Iverson, whom he named as one of his favourite players.
Henry is a member of the UNICEF-FIFA squad, where together with other professional footballers he appeared in a series of TV spots seen by hundreds of millions of fans around the world during the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. In these spots, the players promote football as a game that must be played on behalf of children.
Having being subjected to racism in the past, Henry is an active spokesperson against racism in football. The most prominent incident of racism against Henry was during a training session with the Spanish national team in 2004, when a Spanish TV crew caught Luis Aragonés referring to Henry as "black shit". The incident caused uproar in the British media, and there were calls for Aragonés to be sacked. Henry and Nike started the Stand Up Speak Up campaign against racism in football as a result of the incident. Subsequently, in 2007, Time featured him as one of the "Heroes & Pioneers" on "The Time 100" list.
In 2006, Henry was valued as the ninth most commercially marketable footballer in the world, as well as being the eighth richest Premiership player, with £21 million. In terms of past endorsements, Henry featured in the Renault Clio advertisements in which he popularised the term va-va-voom, meaning "life" or "passion". The word was subsequently added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. In tandem with the 2006 World Cup, Henry also featured in Nike's Joga Bonito campaign, Portuguese for "play beautifully". His deal with Nike ended after the 2006 World Cup, when he signed a deal with Reebok to appear in their "I Am What I Am" campaign. In February 2007, Henry was named as one of the three ambassadors of Gillette's "Champions program". The program, which purported to feature three of the "best-known, most widely respected and successful athletes competing today", also showcased Roger Federer and Tiger Woods. As part of Reebok Entertainment's "Framed" series, Henry was the star of a half-hour episode that detailed the making of a commercial about Henry directed by Spanish actress Paz Vega. Other past endorsements include Pepsi's "Dare For More" campaign in 2005, alongside the likes of David Beckham and Ronaldinho.Izvor
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