Saturday, 31 March 2012

Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry Biography
Thierry Henry may not yet be a household name in North America, but everywhere else on the planet he's known as the most dynamic offensive player in the world's most popular game. The New York Red Bulls star began life in a Paris ghetto, earned national fame as a precocious teen, rocketed to prominence on the sport's ultimate international stage, and then led his pro team to the first undefeated season in more than a century. Thierry is that most deadly of scorers, combining unmatched speed with tremendous vision and creativity. This is his story…
Thierry Henry was born on August 17, 1977, in the small suburban Paris town of Les Ulis. (Click here for a complete listing of today's sports birthdays.) His parents, Antoine and Marylese, left the French Antilles one year earlier in search of a better life.
The state issued the family a subsidized two-bedroom apartment, which was buried amidst the tall, concrete, sixties-style buildings that served as Les Ulis' trademark. The high percentage of immigrants, combined with the narrow roadways and lack of public parks, made the town a ghetto in the eyes of many Parisians.
Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, Antoine stressed the importance of athletics to Thierry, specifically soccer. Marylese worried that her son spent too much time on the pitch and not enough time studying. Thierry listened to both his parents and became a great student and an even better soccer player.
Antoine continually took Thierry to local soccer camps and matches, and it soon became evident that the youngster was an above-average player for his age. As Thierry reached his early teenage years, he started opening the eyes of local scouts. Thierry starred for both the junior team of Les Ulis and the neighboring town of Palaiseau.
It was Thierry Pret, a scout for the semi-pro team of Viry-Chatillon, who first spotted the young phenom. At the time, Viry-Chatillon had the reputation as the best club for developing the skills of young Parisians. Pret approached Antoine about 13-year-old Thierry.
Antoine was easily persuaded, and Thierry began playing for Viry-Chatillon's Under-15 team. Shortly after the youngster joined the club, his parents split up. Marylese moved to nearby Orsay in an effort to get her son into Alexander Fleming College. Thierry attended the school for a while, but his focus remained on the soccer field. In just 26 games for Viry-Chatillon, he had 77 goals.
Just before his 14th birthday, Thierry was one of the 25 boys selected for the French Football Federation's Clairefontaine Academy, located about 30 miles west of Paris. Like every teen who receives this prestigious honor, he lived at the school and concentrated almost exclusively on soccer. William Gallas, Louis Saha and Nicolas Anelka were among Thierry’s classmates at Clairefontaine.
Two years into his stint at Clairefontaine, Thierry was viewed by his coaches as a project player—still too raw to be considered a future star. They liked his speed and his intelligence but worried that his ball-handling, passing and scoring ability would not improve to an elite level.
Arsene Wenger, however, saw far greater potential in Thierry. The manager of Monaco at the time, Wenger didn't hesitate to sign the 16-year-old to an apprentice contract. Thierry made his first professional appearance on August 31, 1994, in a 2-0 loss to Nice. He played in eight games during his first season and scored three goals.
Thierry had a mediocre second season with Monaco, appearing in 18 games and tallying only three goals. Wenger struggled to find the right place on the field for the teenager. Conventional wisdom said that a player with Thierry’s speed and skill would be a natural fit on the wing. But Wenger suspected Thierry could one day become a great striker, even if he didn't have the deadly scoring touch of past stars like Pele, Maradona and Klinnsman.
Thierry Henry, 2002 HIT
Under Wenger's tutelage, Henry became France’s Young Player of the Year in 1996, leading the country’s Under-18 team to the European Championship. With many of Europe's biggest clubs interested in Thierry (his apprentice deal with Monaco was about to expire), Thierry hired a side-agent who was not registered with FIFA. When Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid negotiated a lucrative new contract with Thierry, Monaco cried foul, claiming they already had an agreement with a registered agent to retain their up-and-coming star. Thierry found himself on two different teams at the same time.
FIFA officials settled the debate by fining Thierry and Real Madrid. He continued to play with Monaco, agreeing on a multi-year extension in January of 1997.
Keeping Thierry was a stroke of genius by Monaco. He exploded in his third year, leading the club to the French First Division Championship. The anchor of the team’s offense, he scored nine goals in 36 games.
Next up for Thierry was the 1997 World Youth Championships in Malaysia for France’s Under-20 squad. He saw the tournament as an opportunity to showcase his skills to the soccer world, not to mention organizers of the French National Team. The World Cup was a year away, and with France hosting the event, Thierry was eager to represent his country. He performed well enough, but the Blue and White lost in the quarter-finals to Uruguay in a shoot-out. Later in the year, Thierry got his first international cap in a 2-1 friendly victory over South Africa.
Heading into the 1997-1998 season, Monaco had its sights set on a second-straight division championship and the UEFA Champions League title. The team looked to Thierry to achieve both goals, but the pressure to make France's World Cup squad affected his play. In 30 French First Division games, Thierry had only four goals. He stepped up his play in the Champions League, scoring seven goals—a French record —and guiding Monaco to the semi-finals, where they lost to Juventus on aggregate scoring.
It was obvious that Thierry was worried about the World Cup. Some French fans began to give up on him, focusing instead on teammate David Trezeguet, who many called the next Gabriel Batistuta. Thierry's struggles could also be attributed to the departure of Wenger prior to the season, who left to manage in the Japanese First Division (and shortly thereafter went on to Arsenal). Thierry was comfortable under Wenger and struggled to find that same level under new manager Jean Tigana.
Rumors were also swirling about Monaco's plans to transfer Thierry to another club. Barcelona, offering up to 12 million pounds for his services, was the frontrunner. Arsenal, Manchester United and Real Madrid were all in on the bidding, too. Thierry was actually bolstered by the speculation—at least the upper echelon teams were still interested in him.
As it turned out, Aime Jacquet, skipper of the French National team, was also interested. Figuring that Thierry was just scratching the surface of his talents, he couldn't leave him off the squad. Jacquet would not regret his decision.
The favorites heading into World Cup 1998 were Brazil and England, but the French were by no means not longshots. Still, their best chance wa to use the energy of their hometown fans to play near perfect matches every time out.
Jacquet's main concern was his squad's lack of a proven goal scorer. Trezeguet, Thierry's teammate at Monaco, seemed to be the future, but at 20-years-old, he was inexperienced. Stephane Guivarc'h was playing well for Auxerre, but he had just one international goal to his credit. Jacquet even tried youngsters Nicolas Anelka and Christophe Dugarry. For both, however, the international game was too much for them. In the one warm-up match the two played in, the French failed to score.
For sure, France would have to rely heavily on its proven star in the midfield, Zinedine Zidane, who was having an excellent season for Juventus. Jacquet would also need strong performances from Emmanuel Petit, Christian Karembeu, Dider Deschamps and Laurent Blanc. The French were in good shape at goalkeeper. Veteran Bernard Lama battled a young star, Fabien Barthez, for the starting position.
As for Thierry, many of the European publications never even mentioned his name in their World Cup previews.
Standing in France's way in group play were Denmark, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Winning their first two matches—against South Africa and Saudi Arabia—was crucial. Denmark had a very strong team, and playing them without the threat of elimination was a priority.
The French dominated the slower, less-skilled South Africans in their opener. Dugarry headed in a Zidane cross just before halftime, and France later benefitted from an own-goal by its opponent. The third tally was perhaps the most surprising of all. Searching for an offensive spark, Jacquet inserted Thierry to start the contest, and he made the best of his opportunity. Sparking attack after attack, Thierry finally finished one late in the second half. He took a ball, dribbled his way through the entire enemy defense and sent a perfect chip over the head of the South African goalkeeper.
David Trezeguet, Juego Del 5
In their second match, the French caught a couple of unlucky breaks. Dugarry tore his hamstring, thus taking him out of the remainder of the tournament. Then Zidane stomped on a Saudi Arabian player and was banned for the next two games. France needed a lift, and Thierry was right there to provide it.
He opened the scoring in the 36th minute by one-timing a cross from Bixente Lizarazu into the net. Trezeguet followed with a goal in the 68th minute. Thierry then struck again. He jumped on a bad pass by a Saudi Arabian defender and easily slipped the ball in on a breakaway. Lizarazu would add a goal of his own to make the final score 4-0.
With a bid into the next round secured, Jacquet elected to sit Thierry against Denmark. Fully rested, he began France's first elimination match against Paraguay at the wing, rather than striker. The move by Jacquet backfired, however, as Thierry couldn't find any rhythm. He was actually subbed out in the 64th minute.
Barely able to muster any offensive thrust, France stayed in the game with solid defense. In the 113th minute, Les Blues broke the deadlock on a golden goal by Blanc. With French fans delirious with celebration, the squad prepared for to meet Italy in the quarter-finals.
Even with Zidane back in the lineup, the French again struggled to produce any offense. But their defense was up to the task of stopping Italina striker Roberto Baggio, who did nothing of note during the match. Tied after regulation, the contest went into penalty kicks.
Zidane converted first for France, and Baggio followed suit for Italy. Both keepers saved the next two shots. Then Trezeguet made it 2-1 for France, and Italy countered to make it 2-2. Thierry was the next shooter for the French, and he calmly converted his opportunity. Italy tied it again at 3-3. Blanc then made it 4-3 in Franc's favor. When Luigi Di Biagio hit the crossbar, France earned a trip to the semi-finals.
Waiting for the French was Croatia, the other feel-good story of the tournament. The underdog Croatians proved they could play with France, and a rocket by Davor Suker actually put them ahead in the 46th minute. The lead didn't last long. France got two goals from the most unlikely of sources, defender Lilian Thuram, who had 35 caps and no goals entering the match. The French won 2-1 and entered the World Cup final for the first time ever. Thierry saw meaningful minutes against Croatia, but again in the midfield, where his offensive skills remained hidden.
France awaited Brazil in the final. The defending champions,the Brazilians werer heavy favorites. Their leader was Ronaldo, who was going for his first World Cup title. But Les Blues had emotion on their side. The French didn't just beat the Brazilians; they dominated them in every facet of the game. Zidane scored twice, becoming the first to do so in a final since Pele 40 years earlier. France prevailed 3-0.
Thierry watched all the action during the final from the sidelines, as Jacquet opted for his most experienced lineup. But once the match ended, Thierry celebrated like he had scored the game-winner.
After coming down from the emotional high of the World Cup, Thierry had to decide where he would play his club soccer. His first choice was Arsenal, where he would be reunited with Wenger. But Italy's Juventus had the deepest pockets.
Unfortuantely, Thierry's new team was in a state of turmoil. Used on the wing for Juventus, he felt overwhelming pressure from his hometown supporters. The atmosphere on the club was strikingly different from the more laid back Monaco, too. Thierry quickly learned that soccer could be life and death for Juventus fans, and if he didn't perform, he was going to hear about it. Out of position and lacking confidence, Thierry needed a change, and Wenger provided it.
The two had agreed there was a spot on Arsenal for Thierry if things didn't go well with Juventus. After his miserable season in Italy—he had three goals in 16 games—Arsenal paid 10 million pounds to secure Thierry's rights. The move caused great controversy, but Wenger was convinced Thierry would be rejuvenated with a switch back to striker.
Initially, it appeared he was dead wrong. Thierry went scoreless in his first eight matches with Arsenal. But he began to turn things around with the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over Southampton. Thierry had a great March, scoring five times in eight matches for the Gunners. He finished the season with 17 Premiership goals in 31 appearances. Arsenl ended the year 18 points behind Manchester United and lost in the finals of the UEFA Champions League against Galatasaray.
Thierry immediately readied himself for Euro 2000, where France would be favored to win ots second major championship in a row. He had a lot to prove. Because of his poor play in Italy, Thierry had not appeared once for the Blue and White in the past year and a half.
Thierry's greatest challenge would by adjusting again to another position. New French manager Roger Lemerre still saw him as a winger, opting to use Trezeguet, along with Thierry's boyhood friend Nicolas Anelka, as his strikers to open up the field for everyone on the team. This strategy worked well in France's opening match against Denmark. Thierry contributed with a brilliant goal in a rousing victory.
In France's second match, against the Czech Republic, Thierry played even better, netting his second goal of the tournament with some nifty ball-handling. He also assisted on the game-winner by Youri Djorkaeff. The French won 2-1 and moved onto the quarter-finals.
Against Spain, Les Blues looked sluggish, which prompted Lemerre to move Thierry to striker. France then snapped out of its doldrums and eeked out a 2-1 win on goals by Zidane and Djorkaeff.
In the semis, the French took on the Portuguese. Portugal seized the lead early, but Thierry tied the game on a rocket shot in the 50th minute. It stayed that way until the 117th minute, when Portuguese defender Abel Xavier played the ball with his hand inside the penalty area. With Portugal furious over the call, Zidane slid the penalty kick into the net for the golden goal.
The final matched France against Italy. The contest's first few minutes were slow and plodding. Midway through the first half, however, the Italian defense gave Thierry room to maneuver. He ripped a shot, but it hit the post and the game went into halftime in a scoreless tie.
The Italians broke the game open in the 55th minute, and it appeared that they would go on to win the match. But French substitute Sylvain Wiltord scored the equalizer in the 90th minute to stun Italy. In the 103rd minute, Trezeguet spotted a hole in the Italian defense and delivered the goal that gave the French the Euro Cup Championship.
Thierry's strong showing in Euro 2000 earned him a new level of respect. With another title under his belt, he solidified himself as the co-leader of the French squad, along with Zidane. Real Madrid and Barcelona, meanwhile, were both gunning for his services, and the ensuing bidding war drove his price high, almost high enough to lure him out of England. But Thierry trusted Wenger, and he adored the Arsenal fans. In the past, some players of African descent had encountered problems in the Premiership. That wasn't the case with Arsenal.
Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry handball against Ireland - France vs Ireland 1:1 - World Cup Qualifier 2010
Thierry Henry Sick Goals

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