Who is Thierry Henry - The Arsenal Legend
Updated: Dec 12, 2020
Who is Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry is a French professional football coach and former player. He is currently the manager of Major League club Montreal Impact, but prior to his management career, he was widely considered one of the greatest strikers of all time and there is much debate over whether he is the greatest player in the history of the Premier League.
Henry, born to Maryse and Antoine Henry in August 1977, is of Antillean heritage. His father is from Guadeloupe, while his mother is from Martinique. Henry was born and raised in Les Ulis, in Paris – a suburb with a reputation for trouble, but which provided good footballing facilities. Henry showed great potential to succeed in football, prompting Claude Chezelle to recruit him to the local club, CO Les Ulis. Initially, Henry did not seem particularly drawn to the sport, but his father pushed him to attend training sessions regardless. He joined US Palaiseau in 1989, but when his father fell out with the club a year later, he transferred to ES Viry-Chatillon where he played for two years. Henry’s talents were so remarkable, that his former US Palaiseau coach and future mentor Jean-Marie Panza followed him to his new club.
In 1990, when Henry was just 13, he was scouted by Monaco after scoring all goals in a 6-0 win for his team. His performance was so impressive that the scout, Arnold Catalano, asked him to join the team without even attending a trial – all he asked was that Henry complete a course at the elite INF Clairefontaine Academy. Henry was not very academic and his poor school results made the director of the school reluctant to enrol him. Nonetheless, he was allowed to complete the course and joined Arsene Wenger’s Monaco youth team before making his professional debut in August of 1994.
Initially, Henry was deployed on the left wing. Despite Wenger’s sense that he would make a natural striker, he believed that Henry’s pace, natural ball control and skill would be more impactful against full backs rather than centre-backs.
Though his stint with Monaco started slow, Henry’s performance quickly picked up and he was named the French Young Footballer of the Year in 1996, and in the 1996/97 season, he was instrumental in the club’s Ligue 1 title win. In the 1997/98 season, he led his team to the UEFA Champions League semi-final, setting a French record with 7 goals scored during 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 FIFA World Cup.
In 1999, Henry made the decision to leave Monaco in favour of Italian club Juventus, for £10.5million. However, feeling unsettled in Italy, he transferred to Arsenal less than a year later, where he would reunite with his former manager Arsene Wenger. Costing £11million, his transfer was controversial – but having coached the young player before, Wenger was sure that Henry was a worthy investment. Following his earlier instinct, Wenger devoted himself to moulding Henry into a fierce striker – a move that would pay handsomely in the future, but which raised initial doubts about his abilities when he failed to score in his first eight games. But these doubts were quickly dispelled when, by the end of his first season with the team, Henry had scored an impressive 26 goals, pushing the team to second place in the Premier League and securing a place in the UEFA Cup Finals.
Despite such success, Henry expressed frustration at the fact he had yet to help the club win any honours, frequently asserting his desire to establish Arsenal as a powerful team. His wish came true in the 2001/02 season, when Arsenal secured the Premier League title, finishing 7 points above Liverpool, and defeated Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup Final. He finished the season as the league’s top goal scorer with 32 goals, leading Arsenal to their first double and his first silverware with the club. Henry’s strong performance on the team continued in the 2002/03 season, where despite failing to retain their Premier League title, Arsenal secured yet another FA Cup victory.
A rising star in the world of football, Henry was named both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year, and he was the runner-up for the 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year award. Having scored 24 goals and 20 assists in the league, he is the first player to record at least 20 goals and 20 assists in a single season of Europe’s top five leagues – a record which has only just been matched this year by Lionel Messi. He also broke the record for the most assists in a single Premier League season. His accolades only grew over the years, as he secured two Golden Boots, becoming the first to officially win two in a row. It was well-deserved, then, that he was awarded club captaincy in 2005.
Captaincy did not come easily to Henry, though – there was much speculation that a striker was not as well-placed as a defender or midfielder to read the game. On top of this, Henry was now responsible for a young team who had not yet gelled. Under these conditions, the inadequacies of the team were obvious as they failed to win the league title for two consecutive years. This, and the relative inexperience of his squad, caused many to believe that Henry might abandon Arsenal. Henry refuted these claims, declaring his love for Arsenal as he signed another four-year contract with the club and promised to stay with Arsenal for life.
Things took a downturn in the following season, though, as Henry was marred with injuries to his hamstrings, feet, back, stomach and groin. It was ruled that he needed at least three months off the pitch, in order to heal fully, causing him to miss much of the 2006/07 season. In 2007, he unexpectedly left Arsenal, signing a £21million contract with Barcelona and citing the departure of David Dein and continued uncertainty over Wenger’s future as reasons for leaving. He added: “I have always said that if I ever left Arsenal, it would be to play for Barcelona.” Henry left Arsenal as the club’s top all-time league goal scorer with 174 goals and leading all-time goal scorer in European competitions with 42 goals.
However, Henry expressed regret with his move to Barcelona in the initial year. Being mostly deployed on the wing throughout the season, he was unable to reproduce the top goal scoring form that he had achieved with Arsenal. Despite this, he finished his debut season as the club’s top goal scorer with an impressive 19 goals and 9 league assists. In the next season, he surpassed his already impressive tally with 26 goals and 10 assists. He won the first trophy of his Barcelona career in 2009, after defeating Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final. Completing a treble, Henry pushed Barcelona to win the Primera Division and UEFA Champions League. In 2009, he helped Barcelona towards an unprecedented sextuple, adding the Supercopa de Espana, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup to the aforementioned treble. Despite his incredible success with the team, after his return from the 2010 World Cup, it was announced that Henry’s tenure with Barcelona would soon be over.
In 2010, Henry signed a multi-year contract with Major League Soccer (MLS) club New York Red Bulls, but re-signed with Arsenal on a two-month loan in 2012. He made his second debut with Arsenal in the FA Cup third round, scoring the only goal. In his last league game on loan, he scored the winning goal against Sunderland, closing his Arsenal career with a record 228 goals. Not long after his brief stint with Arsenal, he returned to Red Bulls to prepare for the 2012 season. He was the highest-paid player in MLS and it was not hard to see why, when he pushed his club to their first major trophy in their 17-year history. He also secured a spot as the team’s all-time assist leader. However, in 2014, he announced his retirement from professional football after a long and successful career.
Appearances: 376 / Goals: 228 / Assists: 103
2x English Champion
3x English FA Cup winner
2x English Super Cup winner
Appearances: 139 / Goals: 28 / Assists: 2
New York Red Bulls
Appearances: 135 / Goals: 52 / Assists: 42
Appearances: 121 / Goals: 49 / Assists: 27
Champions League winner
FIFA Club World Cup Winner
2x Spanish Champion
UEFA Super Cup winner
Spanish Cup winner
Spanish Super Cup winner
Appearances: 20 / Goals: 3 / Assists: -
UI Cup winner
5x Top scorer
8x Footballer of the Year
2x Player of the Year
In 2005, Henry took over Viera’s role as captain of Arsenal after his unexpected departure.
During the 2003/04 season, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Patrick Viera and Henry were integral to Arsenal’s success; together, they ensured that the team would become the first in over a century to go through the entire domestic league season unbeaten as they secured the league title.
Where Is He Now?
After quitting professional football in 2014, Henry announced his desire to work for Sky Sports as a pundit. He worked with Sky for over three years, in tandem with coaching Arsenal’s youth teams. In 2016, he became the second assistant coach of the Belgium national team. In 2018, he quit his job with Sky in order to focus on his career as a football coach and soon after, he was appointed as Monaco’s manager. However, after a series of failures by the club, he was dismissed in 2019, signing a two-year deal with MLS club Montral Impact instead.