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27 June 2007
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6/25/2007 3:11 PM
Goal.com Profile: Thierry Henry The heavily-trailed transfer of France striker Thierry Henry from Arsenal to Barcelona has finally taken place, a year after many people expected it to, and 13 months after he signed a new four-year contract with the Gunners that he said at the time would be his last in football.

Barca's capture of a player widely regarded as one of the best on the planet not only reflects the Catalan club's standing in world football, but also underlines their determination to assuage the disappointment of surrendering their Liga title to arch-rivals Real Madrid by the slenderest of margins - head-to-head results.

As Barca fans lick their lips in anticipation of Henry linking up with his close friend Ronaldinho and the mercurial Lionel Messi, Goal.com profiles his dazzling career to date...

Early Years

Thierry Daniel Henry was born on 17th August, 1977, in Les Ulis, a working-class suburb of Paris, the son of parents who hailed from the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Father Antoine is from Guadeloupe and mother Maryse from Martinique.

Heavily urbanised Les Ulis provided the young Thierry with a tough formative environment, but also offered him the facilities and opportunities to develop his footballing skill.

At the age of six, he already showed enough potential for Claude Chezelle to introduce him to local club CO Les Ulis. Five years later, in 1988, Henry played his first game for the club. Although Thierry was not entirely hooked on the game, Antoine Henry ensured he attended training and honed his talent.

In 1989 the 12 year-old joined US Palaiseau for a year, after which Antoine fell out with the club, prompting Thierry to link up with another youth team, Viry-Châtillon. Jean-Marie Panza, the coach of US Palaiseau, followed Henry to Viry-Châtillon, and during the next two years became something of a mentor to the youngster. 

However, his feats in youth football were attracting attention from further afield, and in 1990, AS Monaco sent their scout, Arnold Catalano, to watch the 13-year-old in action. Catalano was not disappointed: Henry scored all six goals as his side won 6-0, and the scout immediately asked him to join Monaco without the formality of a trial.

Catalano also wanted Henry to complete a course at France's elite football academy, Clairefontaine, and although the director there was initially unwilling to accept Henry on the basis of unimpressive academic results, the player was allowed to complete the course, opening the door to the youth team at Monaco, whose manager was one Arséne Wenger.

Henry later signed as a professional with Monaco, and made his first team debut for them in 1995. Wenger initially deployed Henry as a left winger, calculation that  the player's electrifying pace and natural ability on the ball would unhinge full-backs on the flanks rather more effectively than centre-backs through the middle.

The Wenger-Henry partnership proved fruitful, Henry scoring 21 goals in 125 Ligue 1 appearances and winning Le Championnat in 1996-97 as well as international recognition (see below). He helped Monaco reach the semi-finals of the Uefa Champions League in 1998, where they lost 6-4 on aggregate to Juventus. Henry netted seven goals during that first Champions League campaign of his career.

His impressive performances for both club and country prompted Serie A giants Juve to lure Henry to Italy in January 1999, one year before his friend and Monaco team-mate David Trezeguet made the same move. Henry cost Juve £10.5 million, but looked isolated on the wing in Serie A and struggled to make an impact against the well-organised defensive formations he encountered. 

In 16 Serie A appearances for the Bianconeri, Henry scored three goals. It was Wenger who rescued him, the Arsenal boss turning to his former winger as he sought a replacement for Madrid-bound compatriot Nicolas Anelka.

An Arsenal Legend

Henry's arrival at Highbury for a fee of £10.5 million, four days before his 22nd birthday on the eve of the 1999-2000 season, was somewhat overshadowed by the Gunners' simultaneous capture of the established Croatian striker Davor Suker from Real Madrid. But while Suker's one and only season in North London yielded 11 goals in 39 appearances in all competitions (24 as substitute), Henry's impact at Highbury was to last longer and have record-breaking significance.

Yet the Frenchman's early appearances in an Arsenal shirt were inauspicious. He made his debut as a second-half substitute in the opening Premiership fixture of the 1999-2000 campaign, a 2-1 home win over Leicester City. In that game, plus his full debut away to Derby County three days later and the following five matches, Arsenal fans began to wonder if the speedy winger with the wayward shooting boots could hit a cow's backside with the proverbial banjo. Wenger, though, knew what a pearl he had, and in typically astute fashion had decided that Henry was now ready to develop his career not as a wide left midfielder but as the team's lead striker.

Henry came off the bench in the 71st minute of Arsenal's Premiership game at Southampton on September 18th and hit a superlative strike into the roof of the net to open his account with his new club and, in the process, give the Gunners a 1-0 win. Even then, he took time to acclimatise to his new role, and before Christmas continued to be substituted or used as a substitute, scoring eight goals in all competitions by the turn of the year.

In the second half of the season though, it all clicked smoothly into place and Henry, with pace to burn, left defences trailing in his wake as he scorched his name into the headlines with 18 goals - including a sequence of scoring in seven consecutive Premiership appearances to equal Alan Shearer's record. Silverware eluded him though, Arsenal finishing as runners-up to Manchester United in the League and the Galatasaray (on penalties) in the Uefa Cup final.

The following season (2000-01) also saw the Gunners come second in both Premiership and FA Cup, though for Henry it was a case of further progress, building on his 26 goals the previous season and a triumphant summer with France at Euro 2000 (see below) by hitting 22 more goals for Arsenal. In 2001-02, as Arsenal stormed to a domestic double, Henry was on target 32 times in all competitions. It was the first of five consecutive seasons in which he scored more than 30 goals for the club.

He won a second successive FA Cup winner's medal in the 2002-03 season, when he claimed another 32 goals and was also credited with a remarkable 23 assists, testimony to his selfless all-round team play. In 2003-04, as Arsenal remained unbeaten all season to win the Premiership again, he top-scored with 39 goals (11 assists). And in 2004-05, another FA Cup-winning campaign, his tally was 30 goals and 15 assists. 

In the summer of 2005, compatriot Patrick Vieira left Arsenal for Juventus and Henry was named club captain by Wenger. There was a suspicion that the captaincy was an incentive to help tie him to the club rather than recognition of outstanding leadership qualities, because as a striker he is not best-placed to read the game unfolding, and moreover as a perfectionist his frustration can become apparent to team-mates when things are not going smoothly.

In the 2005-06 campaign they failed to go smoothly quite often in the Premiership, Arsenal securing fourth-place (their lowest finish under Wenger) and Champions League football only by the skin of their teeth ahead of arch-rivals Spurs on the last day of their last season at Highbury. But there was compensation in the form of a stirring, Henry-inspired Champions League run that saw the Gunners reach the final of that prestigious competition or the first time in the history. Their opponents in the Paris showpiece were, ironically, Barcelona, who for weeks had been touted as Henry's destination once the season ended.

Ten-man Arsenal succumbed to Barca pressure late on and finished as gallant losers, but the blow was softened by Henry's immediately committing himself to the club for four more years by signing a lucrative new contract. Given that he had just added a further 33 goals to his tally with the club, the relief among Arsenal fans was palpable. Henry declared his loyalty and love for the club, reaffirming this months later by stating that he would stay at Arsenal "for life," and that, "If an opportunity like Barcelona comes again, with all my respect for such a club, I will refuse." 

However, having gone into the 2006 World Cup, where he again finished up a disappointed loser in the final, the cumulative effects - both physical and mental - of incessant competitive football were clearly taking their toll on Henry as the new domestic season progressed.  A succession of debilitating injuries wrecked his campaign, reducing him to a mere 17 Premiership appearances (10 goals), and to 27 (12 goals) in all competitions.

On 7th March 2007, after he'd missed a host of games with hamstring, foot and back problems, he was named as a substitute for Arsenal's Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven, but was limping within minutes of coming on. After the match, which ended Arsenal's European interest for another season, Wenger revealed that Henry had suffered new injuries to his groin and stomach muscles, and would be out for "a few weeks."  Scans then showed that he would need at least three months to heal, so his 2006-07 season was over. Wenger attributed his star striker's physical woes to the protracted 2005-06 campaign, but reiterated that Henry wanted to stay with the Gunners to rebuild for the 2007-08 season.

Back on the pitch, while Gilberto Silva proved to be a fine replacement captain, without Henry in attack Arsenal struggled to convert the many chances their slick-passing game created.  A suited Henry watched with mounting frustration from the sidelines. And that frustration turned to dismay when David Dein, Arsenal's vice-chairman, left the club in April this year as boardroom tensions erupted. Henry, like Wenger, was close to Dein, whose son had been best man when Thierry got married.

Moreover, Dein's departure put a question-mark over Wenger's future at the Emirates. That, plus Arsenal's inability to win the Premiership for three consecutive seasons, the relative inexperience of the Arsenal squad, the lack of new big-money signings and Barcelona's determination to lure him to Camp Nou this time, orchestrated daily by the Catalan media, tipped the balance away from the Gunners. Henry decided the time was right to close the Arsenal chapter of his career and start writing a new one in La Liga.

Spanish media reports on 22nd June 2007 declared yet again that Henry was about to move to Barcelona, but this time Henry confirmed that he would take a medical on Monday 25th June 2007. He told the French sports daily L'Equipe that he had chosen Barcelona, and cited the inability of Wenger to commit to Arsenal past the expiration of his contract in summer 2008, plus the departure of David Dein, as his  reasons for moving. The deal is worth around £16 million over four years to Henry, with the transfer fee to Arsenal reportedly of a similar magnitude.

The Henry Legacy

Thierry Henry's Arsenal career spanned eight seasons (1999-2000 to 2006-07), during which time he made 364 first-team appearances in all competitions, scoring a club record 226 goals and also contributing 82 assists.

He was Arsenal's top goalscorer in seven of his eight seasons at the club. The exception was his final season, when injuries restricted his appearances and his 12 goal haul was one fewer than fellow injury victim Robin van Persie's 13.

On 17th October 2005, Henry became Arsenal's top goalscorer of all time, when his two goals against Sparta Prague in the Champions League meant he broke Ian Wright's record of 185 goals for the club in all competitions.

On 1st February 2006, he scored a goal against West Ham United that brought his League goal tally to 151 and thus broke the record set by Cliff Bastin, an Arsenal legend of the 1930s.

Henry also 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 leaves the Gunners having scored a club record 174 League goals, and a club record 42 in European competitions (in 84 appearances).


National Team
   
Henry earned his international call up for France while at Monaco. In June 1997, he was selected for the France Under-20 team, where he played in the 1997 Fifa World Youth Championship, together with future team-mates William Gallas and David Trézéguet.

Four months later, France head coach Aimé Jacquet called Henry into the senior team. Aged 20, he made his senior international début on 11th October 1997 in a 2-1 victory over South Africa. Jacquet like what he saw enough to include Henry in his squad for the 1998 World Cup, which France hosted. Still relatively unknown beyond French borders, he finished up as the top scorer for France with three goals in the tournament.

He was scheduled to appear in the final, in which France beat Brazil 3-0, as a substitute, but the sending off of Marcel Desailly forced Jacquet into a defensive change that kept Henry on the bench. However, he picked up a World Cup winner's medal, having played a decisive role in the French campaign.

Two years later, Henry was a member of France's Euro 2000 championship squad, and again scored three goals to finish as his country's top scorer. His goals included the equaliser against Portugal in the semi-final, and France went on to win the game in extra time thanks to a Zinedine Zidane penalty. They followed that by beating Italy in extra-time in the final, Henry earning the second major international medal of his career.

It was a less happy story in 2002, when the defending World Champions suffered an ignominious early exit from the Korea-Japan World Cup. France went out in the group stage after failing to score a goal in their three games. Henry himself was sent off for a rash challenge against Uruguay in the second group game, and was suspended for the third and final one, a 2-0 defeat by Denmark.

However, in Summer 2003, Henry starred in a French side missing Zidane and Patrick Vieira at the Confederations Cup. France won, Henry being named Man of the Match by Fifa's Technical Study Group in three of his country's five games. In the final, he scored the golden goal in extra time to beat Cameroon 1-0. 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 goalscorer with four goals.

A year later, Henry played in all of France's Euro 2004 matches, though they lost to the eventual winners Greece 1-0 in the quarter-finals.

And in 2006 he was an automatic selection for Raymond Domenech's French side at the World Cup in Germany. Deployed as a lone striker, he emerged as a leading player in the tournament, scoring three goals, including France's goal against defending champions Brazil. However, France went on to lose 5-3 on penalties to Italy in the final.

Henry was one of 10 nominees for the Golden Ball award for Player of the Tournament, but lost out to team-mate, Zidane. Henry was also named a starting striker on the 2006 FIFPro World XI team.

To date, Henry has scored 39 goals in 91 appearances for France.

His international honours are:

FIFA World Cup:
Appearances: 1998, 2002, 2006
Winner: 1998
Runner-Up: 2006

European Championship:
Appearances: 2000, 2004
Winner: 2000

Confederations Cup:
Appearances: 2003
Winner: 2003


Claims To Fame

Henry has been twice nominated for the Fifa World Player of the Year award but finished runner-up in 2003 and 2004, and was named World XI Striker in 2006.

He won the European Golden Boot in 2004, 2005, and was the FA Premier League's top scorer in 2001-02, 2003-04, 2004-05, and 2005-06.
 
He won the Onze d'Or in 2003, 2006, and has twice received the Barclays Premiership player of the season award.

He was voted the English PFA Players' Player of the Year in both 2002-03, 2003-04.
 
Henry won the English Football Writers'  prestigious Footballer Of The Year accolade three times - in 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2005-06.

In 2006, he became the first player to score more than 20 goals in the league for five consecutive seasons (2002–2006), and he stands third in the list of all-time English Premiership goal scorers, behind only Shearer and Andy Cole.

He is also France's second highest goalscorer of all time, one goal behind Michel Platini.


Club Honours:

With Monaco:
Ligue 1: 1996-97
French Super Cup: 1997

With Arsenal:
FA Premier League: 2001-02, 2003-04
FA Cup: 2002, 2003, 2005
FA Community Shield: 2002, 2004
UEFA Champions League Runner Up : 2006
UEFA Cup Runner Up : 2000


Technical Ability

Arsene Wenger's great contribution to Thierry Henry's career was to switch him back to his childhood position of striker when he joined Arsenal, having used his pace on the wings earlier in his professional career, as Juventus had.

Henry on top form offers an awesome combination of blistering pace, outstanding technique, improvisational skill, and great coolness in one-on-one situations. His pace regularly takes him behind opposing defences where he can wreak havoc, a favoured tactic being to position himself wide on the left wing. From there he has racked up numerous assists, and indeed there is unselfishness about his game which is rare in such a prolific striker.

Critics have accused him of being obsessed with scoring perfect goals, and wondered how many goals he would have notched up with a more selfish, blinkered approach. He has also been accused of not having a big-match temperament, of scoring his goals against supposedly "soft" opposition in the Premiership. Yet the evidence clearly refutes this - particularly his feats for France and in the Champions League. 

Many of goals have become collectors' items: gems of creativity and execution, and show-reel of his goals for Arsenal simply takes the breath away.

In addition, Henry was the first-choice penalty and free kick taker for Arsenal, and scored plenty from those positions (though he declined to take penalties awarded for fouls against himself). He is also willing to defend from the front, and to defend deep if the team needs it.

During the 2004-05 season, Wenger switched Arsenal's formation to 4-5-1, which required Henry to adapt by operating as a lone striker, though he prefers to play alongside, or only just in front of, another forward.


Did You Know?

- Henry's is widely known as "Titi" in the game.
 
- Henry married English model Nicole Merry in July 2003, and on 27th May 2005, they celebrated the birth of their first child, a daughter named Tea Henry. His first goal after her birth was against Newcastle United, and he dedicated it to Tea by holding his fingers in a 'T' shape and kissing them.

- In 2006, Henry was ranked the ninth most commercially marketable footballer in the world, and the eighth richest Premiership player, worth an estimated £21 million.

- In 2007, Henry was listed among Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World.

- He has featured in the Renault Clio adverts, popularising the phrase "va-va-voom," meaning life or passion. The term was subsequently added to the Oxford Concise English Dictionary.

- He was also a part of Nike's Joga Bonito campaign, but his deal with Nike ended after the 2006 World Cup, and he then signed a contract with Reebok to appear in their "I Am What I Am" campaign.

- Henry is a great fan of the pace and excitement of the USA's National Basketball Association, and is often seen with his friend Tony Parker at basketball games when not playing football.

- Henry is a member of the UNICEF-Fifa squad, professional footballers who appeared in a series of TV ads during the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, promoting football as a game to be played on behalf of children.

- Henry and Nike launched the Stand Up Speak Up campaign against racism after some highly publicised racist incidents in football.

- Spain coach Luis Aragones was fined 3000 euros (£2,060) for racist remarks made about Henry to his then Arsenal club-mate Jose Antonio Reyes.

- On Bastille Day 1998, he was awarded France's highest decoration, the Légion d'Honneur.


Season-by-Season Club Career

 

Club

Season

League

Cups

Europe

Total

 

 

Games

Goals

Games

Goals

Games

Goals

Games

Goals

Monaco

1994-5

8

3

0

0

0

0

8

3

Monaco

1995-6

18

3

3

0

1

0

22

3

Monaco

1996-7

36

9

3

0

9

1

48

10

Monaco

1997-8

30

4

5

0

9

7

44

11

Monaco

1998-9

13

1

1

0

5

0

19

1

Monaco

Total

105

20

12

0

24

8

141

28

Juventus

1998-9

16

3

0

0

0

0

16

3

Juventus

Total

16

3

0

0

0

0

16

3

Arsenal

1999-0

31

17

5

1

12

8

48

26

Arsenal

2000-1

35

17

4

1

14

4

53

22

Arsenal

2001-2

33

24

5

1

11

7

49

32

Arsenal

2002-3

37

24

6

1

12

7

55

32

Arsenal

2003-4

37

30

4

4

10

5

51

39

Arsenal

2004-5

32

25

2

0

8

5

42

30

Arsenal

2005-6

32

27

2

1

10

5

44

33

Arsenal

2006-7

17

10

3

1

7

1

27

12

Arsenal

Total

254

174

31

10

84

42

364

226

Fact-File

Name

Thierry Daniel Henry

Birth Date / Place / Age

17th August 1977 / Paris / 29

Nationality

French

Height

6ft 2in (

Weight

13st 5lb

Position

Striker

Graham Lister


Your Comments
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  • samson mgbaja thierry henry, kano state nigeria 6/27/2007 2:50 PM right now i am crying over the sale of thierry henry to barcalona because it was because of him i suported arsenal football club but no matter the circumstances i am still an arsenal fan but i think i would be watching henry in barcalona because he is always my legend.i take him as my brother i love him I PRAY AS HE GOES TO BERCALONA HE WILL STILL REMAIN THE BEST.
  • zaharaddin kabiru Bichi, kano,Nigeria 6/27/2007 2:36 PM henry you are the best striker in arsenal,but now we dont know who wenger will buy to replace you due to your deperture.we need atleast 2 strikers apart from vanpasie and adebayor.
  • sinak2, iran 6/27/2007 2:02 PM {henry with eto o,ronaldinho and messi}it s danger for realmadrid and other taem.FCBARCELONA
  • James Steven, Freetown, Sierra Leone 6/27/2007 12:56 PM I, James, declare myself today as a supporter of Bacerlona and no more of Arsenal. The reason being am a true admirer of Titi. You have taken a wonderful step to wrap up an exceptional decision which will be proven worthwhile and a landmark in the history of the great cantalans. I tip you to play the very best and contend for more success in the near future. I love you.
  • Okoronkwo Golden goldvilly@yahoo.co.uk, Lagos, Nigeria 6/27/2007 11:46 AM Welcome Igwe to Barca. I'm a Catalan 4 Life. Let's teach the world why we are more than a Club. Why we are a Vision in Football. I would rather advice Rijkard and Joan Larporta to boost our defence more by getting a more efficient Goal Keeper like the Bolton Wanderers Keeper if we would want to win everything. Our Strike force is one of the deadliest now. Welcome Thierry Henry
  • freddy mrewa, Hrare Zimbabwe 6/27/2007 11:04 AM go well thiery, i will always cherish the great goals you scored for us and hope you continue doing that on your bacelona escapade 'Titi"
  • Bryersdeen, tokyo 6/27/2007 7:06 AM infact i never call him any other name than (world best).4 me he's the best in the world.im very happy 4 this challenge.now he gonna prove to the world that he's the best.watch him??? Do ya do world best.lots of luv n respect.one luv. stay Bless.
  • xuxi, tetovo,macedonia(fyrom) 6/26/2007 10:41 PM henry is the best and will be the best he is the best foward player in the world i wish him the best in barcelona.in arsenal he waws the live hero barca campeon
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