CBC Sports World Cup 2006
Thierry Henry

THIERRY HENRY - FRANCE

Date of birth: Aug. 17, 1977
Birthplace: Paris, France
Club: Arsenal (England)
Position: Striker
International debut:
October 1997 vs. South Africa

If there's one player with a point to prove at the 2006 World Cup, France's Thierry Henry is it.

Considered by the majority of soccer critics to be the best striker in the world, the fleet-footed Frenchman is a deadly finisher and a constant goal-scoring threat. Henry also boasts gazelle-like speed, deft ball control, mazy dribbling skills, and visionary playmaking ability.

He is, without question, the single-most dangerous player on the planet, but Henry will be looking to make amends for a poor World Cup performance four years ago.

In 2002, Henry was red carded against Uruguay in France's second game, ruling him out for his country's do-or-die final contest versus Denmark. Robbed of Henry's service, France lost the game and failed to progress beyond the first round . Les Bleus and Henry, who failed to score a single goal at the tournament, returned home in disgrace.

Four years later, Henry is still at the height of his powers having led Arsenal to the finals of the 2005 Champions League and becoming the London-based club's all-time leading scorer with more than 200 goals.

Henry began his magnificent career as a winger with AS Monaco in 1994 in the French first division, scoring three goals in eight games for the principality team. Two seasons later, he scored nine goals for Monaco, who won the French league title. Henry was voted the French young player of the year for 1997.

Henry continued to impress at Monaco the following years and he was rewarded with a spot on France's team at the 1998 World Cup. Henry played in six of France's seven games — although he sat out the final — scoring three goals to help Les Bleus win its first World Cup. More international success came his way two years later when France won Euro 2000.

Midway through the 1998-99 season, Henry joined Juventus in Serie A, but the Frenchman struggled in Italy, scoring just three goals in 16 appearances. That summer he made the move to England after Arsenal paid Juventus a 10.5-million pound ($22-million Cdn) transfer fee. It was in the English Premiership that Henry's stock skyrocketed.

Arsenal bench boss Arsene Wenger, his former coach at Monaco, liberated him from the wing and transformed him into a striker. The move paid immediate dividends — Henry scored 18 goals in his first season with Arsenal.

Henry cemented his status as a club icon and one of the world's top strikers in subsequent seasons. He's scored at least 24 goals per season ever since the 2001-02 campaign, has won four Premiership scoring titles, and he's guided Arsenal to two league crowns (2002 and 2004) and three FA Cups (2002, 2003 and 2005).

This past season was bittersweet for the Frenchman, however. Although he topped the Premiership scoring charts with 27 goals, Arsenal had to settle for a fourth-place finish and suffered a heartbreaking loss to FC Barcelona in the Champions League final.

Henry was out of contract at the end of the season and was being wooed by several teams, including Barcelona, but in the end he decided to remain in London, signing a new deal with Arsenal.

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