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No.14: Thierry Daniel Henry

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Thierry Daniel Henry is a French striker born on August 17,1977 in the tough neighbourhood of Les Ulis where he played for an array of local sides as a youngster and showed great promise as a goal-scorer.Although he wasn’t particularly drawn to football, his father pressured him to attend training (and I’m glad he did!).
He was spotted by AS Monaco in 1990 and signed instantly, making his professional debut in 1994 under Arsène Wenger.Until his last season (1998) with French club, he scored 20 goals in 110 appearances.Good form led to an international call-up in 1998, after which, he signed for the Italian defending champions Juventus. He had a disappointing season playing on the wing and scoring just three times in 16 games, before joining Arsenal for £10.5 million in 1999 reuniting with his former manager Arsène Wenger.

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Success finally arrived during the 2001/02 season. Arsenal finished seven points above Liverpool to win the league title, and defeated Chelsea in the FA Cup Final. Henry became the league’s top goal-scorer and netted 32 goals in all competitions as he led Arsenal to a double and his first silverware with the club.
2002/03 proved to be another productive season for Henry, as he scored 42 goals in all competitions while contributing 23 assists. In doing so, he led Arsenal to another FA Cup triumph. Throughout the season, he competed with Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy for the league scoring title, but the latter edged Henry to the title by a goal. Nonetheless, Henry was named both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year. His rising status as one of the world’s best footballers was affirmed when he emerged runner-up for the 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year award.
Entering the 2003/04 season, Arsenal were determined to reclaim the Premiership crown. Henry was again instrumental in Arsenal’s exceptionally successful campaign; together with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pirès, Henry ensured that the Gunners became the first team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league campaign unbeaten, claiming the league title in the process. Apart from being named for the second year running as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, Henry emerged once again as the runner-up for 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year award. With 39 goals scored in all competitions, the Frenchman led the league in goals scored and won the European Golden Boot.
The unexpected departure of compatriot Vieira in mid-2005 led to Henry being awarded club captaincy, a role which many felt was not naturally suited for him; the captaincy is more commonly given to defenders or midfielders, who are better-placed on the pitch to read the game. Along with being chief goal-scorer, he was responsible for leading a very young team which had yet to gel fully.
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The 2005/06 season proved to be one of remarkable personal achievements for Henry. On 17 October 2005, Henry became the club’s top goal-scorer of all time; two goals against Sparta Prague in the Champions League meant he broke Ian Wright’s record of 185 goals. On February 1, 2006, he scored a goal against West Ham, bringing his league goal tally up to 151, breaking Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin’s league goals record. Henry 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 completed the season as the league’s top goal-scorer, and for the third time in his career, he was voted the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.
Nevertheless, Arsenal failed to win the league title again, but hopes of a trophy were revived when Arsenal, who had not enjoyed much success in Europe, reached the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final. The Gunners eventually lost 2–1 to FC Barcelona, and Arsenal’s inability to win the Premiership for two consecutive seasons combined with the relative inexperience of the Arsenal squad caused much speculation that Henry would leave for another club. However, he declared his love for the club and accepted a four-year contract, and said he would stay at Arsenal for life. Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein later claimed the club had turned down two bids of £50 million from Spanish clubs for Henry before the signing of the new contract. Had the transfer materialised, it would have surpassed the world record £47 million paid for Zinedine Zidane.
Henry’s 2006/07 season was marred by injuries. Although he scored 10 goals in 17 domestic appearances for Arsenal, Henry’s season was cut short in February. Having missed games due to hamstring, foot, and back problems, he was deemed fit enough to come on as a late substitute against PSV Eindhoven in a Champions League match, but began limping shortly after coming on. Scans the next day revealed that he would need at least three months to heal from new groin and stomach injuries, missing the rest of the 2006–07 season.Wenger attributed Henry’s injuries to a protracted 2005–06 campaign, and reiterated that Henry was keen on staying with the Gunners to rebuild for the 2007–08 season.

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Despite initially struggling in the Premiership, he emerged as Arsenal’s top goal-scorer for almost every season also becoming Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer with 226 goals in all competitions.
The Frenchman won two league titles and three FA Cups with The Gunners; he was twice nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year, named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year twice, and the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year three times.
Henry spent his final two seasons with Arsenal as club captain, leading them to the UEFA Champions League final in 2006.
In June 2007, after eight years with Arsenal, he transferred to FC Barcelona for a fee of £16.1 million.
Henry has enjoyed similar success with the French national squad, having won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000. In October 2007, he surpassed Michel Platini’s record becoming the country’s top goal-scorer of all time. Given his accomplishments, he is regarded today by many as one of the best footballers in the world.
Off the pitch, as a result of his own experience, Henry is an active spokesperson against racism in football. His footballing style and personality have ensured that he is one of the most commercially marketable footballers in the world.

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On June 25, 2007, in an unexpected turn of events, Henry was transferred to FC Barcelona for £16.1 million. He signed a four-year deal for a reported €6.8 (£4.6) million per season. It was revealed that the contract included a release clause of €125 (£84.9) million. Henry cited the departure of Dein and continued uncertainty over Wenger’s future as reasons for leaving, and maintained that “I always said that if I ever left Arsenal it would be to play for Barcelona.”
At Barcelona, Henry was given the number 14 jersey, the same number he had previously worn at Arsenal. He made his competitive debut for the club in the league opener on 26 August 2007, a 0–0 draw at Racing Santander. He scored his first goal for his new club on 19 September 2007 in a Champions League match against Olympique Lyonnais, which Barcelona won 3–0. On 29 September 2007 in a La Liga match against Levante, Henry recorded his first hat-trick for Barcelona.

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Henry has had a successful career with the French national team. His international career began in June 1997, when his good form for Monaco was rewarded with a call-up to the Under-20 French national team, where he played in the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship.Within four months, France head coach Aimé Jacquet called Henry up to the senior team. The 20-year-old made his senior international debut on October 11, 1997 in a 2–1 win against South Africa. Jacquet was so impressed with Henry that he took him to the 1998 World Cup. Although Henry was a largely unknown quantity at international level, he ended the tournament as France’s top scorer with three goals. He was scheduled to appear as a substitute in the final, where France beat Brazil 3–0, but Marcel Desailly’s sending off forced a defensive change instead. On Bastille Day 1998, he was awarded France’s highest decoration, the Légion d’Honneur.
Henry was a member of France’s Euro 2000 championship squad, again scoring three goals in the tournament and finishing as the country’s top scorer. France defeated Italy in extra time in the final, earning Henry his second major international medal.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup featured a stunning early exit for both Henry and France as the defending champions were eliminated in the group stage after failing to score a goal in all three games.
Henry returned to form for his country at the 2003 Confederations Cup. Despite playing without team stalwarts Zinedine Zidane and Patrick Vieira, France won, in large part owing to Henry’s outstanding play, for which he was named Man of the Match by FIFA’s Technical Study Group in three of France’s five matches. In the final, he scored the golden goal in extra time to lift the title for the host country after a 1–0 victory over Cameroon. 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 goal-scorer with four goals.
In Euro 2004, Henry played in all of France’s matches and scored two goals.France lost to the eventual winners Greece in the quarter-finals. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup Henry remained as one of the automatic starters in the squad. He played as a lone striker, but despite an indifferent start to the tournament, became one of the top players of the World Cup. He scored three goals.However, France subsequently lost to Italy on penalties (5–3) in the final. Henry was one of 10 nominees for the Golden Ball award for Player of the Tournament, an award which was ultimately presented to his teammate, Zidane and was named a starting striker on the 2006 FIFPro World XI team.

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Henry is a member of the UNICEF-FIFA squad, where together with other professional footballers he appeared in a series of TV spots seen by hundreds of millions of fans around the world during the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. In these spots, the players promote football as a game that must be played on behalf of children.
Having being subjected to racism in the past, Henry is an active spokesperson against racism in football. The most prominent incident of racism against Henry was during a training session with the Spanish national team in 2004, when a Spanish TV crew caught Luis Aragonés referring to Henry as “black shit”. The incident caused uproar in the British media, and there were calls for Aragonés to be sacked. Henry and Nike started the Stand Up Speak Up campaign against racism in football as a result of the incident.Subsequently, in 2007, Time featured him as one of the “Heroes & Pioneers” on “The Time 100” list.

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