Full Name: Thierry Daniel Henry
Date of Birth: 17/08/1977
Thierry Henry has been a French professional footballer since the age of 17 and is perhaps most famous for the eight years he spent with Arsenal until June 2007.
To date, Henry has made almost 100 appearances for France, scoring over 40 goals. In total he has played in over 500 club matches and scored more than 260 goals. In the course of his career with Arsenal, he made 369 appearances, scored 226 goals and served up 82 assists.
Thierry Daniel Henry was born in Paris on 17th August, 1977. Although he grew up in a deprived area, facilities for football were good and he showed an early promise. Despite the fact that he had no special interest in football as a child, Henry played for a number of local teams in the Ulis commune where he lived, encouraged by his father.
In 1990, at the age of 13, a talent scout saw Henry score six goals in a 6-0 victory over another local team. He was immediately asked to join A.S. Monaco (without the formality of a trial), first completing a period at the Clairefontaine academy, France’s national football centre and one of the country’s nine elite academies.
Henry played his first professional game in December 1994 against Nice, when he was 17. At this stage he played on the left wing; later, manager Arsene Wenger realised he would be more effective as a striker.
Henry’s impact on the team was instant and impressive, with fans predicting the advent of a new star. He duly received the French Young Footballer of the Year award in 1996. Aided by his skills, Monaco also won the Ligue 1 title, the top division of French football. In June of 1997, Henry’s talent was recognised with his début for the under-21 French national side. By the end of the year, he had advanced to the senior team. He played his first international match against South Africa on October 11, 1997, which resulted in a 2-1 win to France.
In the 1997-98 season, Henry played a large part in helping his club reach the UEFA Champions League semi-final, scoring seven goals in the course of the competition. But it was the 1998 World Cup which saw his breakout performance, aiding the French to victory with a total three goals. In recognition of his contribution he was given the Légion d’Honneur on Bastille Day, 1998.
Thanks to his World Cup tour-de-force, Henry moved to the Italian Juventus in January 1998 for around £10.5 million. It was to be a disappointing year for him. Again playing as a winger, he had trouble finding his stride and scored only three goals in the course of 16 games.
In August, Henry was reunited with his former manager, Arsene Wenger, after another £10.5 million transfer to Arsenal. Although the move also meant a change back to striker, it took him a while to adjust to playing in his new position. Fans raised doubts about the transfer fee after he failed to score in first eight games. However, having settled in, he silenced his critics by scoring a total of 26 goals over the course of the season. Since then, Henry has been Arsenal’s top scorer for nearly every season.
Euro 2000 saw Henry back in action as part of France’s championship squad. Once again, he scored three goals, including the equaliser against Portugal in the semi-finals, allowing Zidane to win with a converted penalty in extra time. In the final, France eventually triumphed over Italy in extra time, finishing 2-1 up. Sadly, this performance was not matched two years later. In the 2002 World Cup the French side was missing Zidane due to injuries. They lost their first group match 1-0 to Senagal. In the second, against Uruguay, Henry was sent off. The match ended in a 0-0 draw but, thanks to the red card, he was unable to play in the third match, which Denmark won 2-0. This proved to be little more than a blip in an otherwise charmed career. France won the 2003 Confederations Cup, largely due to Henry’s talent, as Zidane could still not play. France also reached the quarter-finals in Euro 2004.
Meanwhile, Henry’s efforts were turning around Arsenal’s fortunes. The 2001-02 season saw them take the league title and win 2-0 against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final. A second Cup Final victory followed the next year. 2003-04 was arguably more successful, as Arsenal completed the entire season without losing a single game, something that had not happened for over a century. The following year also saw an FA Cup win, but Chelsea picked up the Premiership.
2005-06 saw repeated rumours that Henry would be leaving Arsenal for either Barcelona or Real Madrid. He eventually signed a four-year contract to stay. The season also saw him become Arsenal’s top goal-scorer of all time.
However, Henry’s 2006-07 season was first interrupted and eventually largely missed altogether due to various injuries, something unusual for him. Despite declaring that he would “always be a Gunner”, he left Arsenal for Barcelona in June 2007 – something he claimed was partially due to Wenger’s own uncertain future there but may be more easily explained by the club’s relatively poor performance that year. Barcelona was rumoured to be paying £130,000 per week for the privilege, after enduring a trophy-less season of their own.
Henry scored his first goal for Barcelona against Olympique Lyonnais on 19 September, 2007, in a Champions League match which they won 3-0. Ten days later he scored his first hat-trick, against Levante.
Henry has one child with English model Nicole Merry, whom he met whilst filming an advert for the Renault Clio. They were married in 2003 and daughter Tea Henry was born on May 27, 2005.
In June 2007 Henry and his wife separated, shortly before his transfer to Barcelona. Indeed, dissatisfaction with the move away from England is said to have contributed to the breakdown in their relationship. The divorce was finalised in the autumn, with speculation that Merry was asking for an eight-figure sum from Henry’s estimated £25 million fortune.
Henry is the founder of Stand Up Speak Up, a programme to address racism in football.
- European Golden Boot: 2004, 2005
- FA Premier League top scorer: 2001–02, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06. Henry also accumulated the highest goal tally in all four leagues in 2004 and 2006
- Confederations Cup top scorer: 2003
- Confederations Cup Golden Ball: 2003
- Onze d’Or: 2003, 2006
- PFA Players’ Player of the Year: 2002–03, 2003–04
- PFA Team of the Year: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
- FWA Footballer Of The Year: 2002–03, 2003–04, 2005–06
- FIFA World Player of the Year Runner-up: 2003, 2004
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006
- European Footballer of the Year: 2nd place, 2003; 3rd place, 2006
- French Player of the Year: 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
- In March 2004 the Argentinean football legend, Pelé, named Henry in his list of the best 125 living footballers.
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