After almost two months in Arsenal colours, Thierry Henry is getting stuck into his second full season with the New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulletin shot a quick breeze with the most successful striker in France’s history
London, February 6: Thierry Henry arrives at a photographic studio near the Emirates Stadium in the middle of the day. Two days earlier, he found the net in Arsenal’s 7-1 win over Blackburn Rovers that allowed The Gunners to retain hopes of securing a Champions League spot this season. Henry, who scored 226 goals in 370 games for Arsenal between 1999 and 2007, still hopes to become a champion of Major League Soccer; it’s one of the few honours missing from a glittering career.
The Red Bulletin: What are you going to miss most – again – about London and Arsenal?
Thierry Henry: I’ve never regretted anything in my career or in my life in general. What has to happen, happens. That means you can grow, take the knocks and move on. And you never really leave Arsenal. When I come back, it’s like I’ve never left. I still see the coach, Boro [Primorac], Pat Rice [assistant manager], and I still stay in the same hotel. The stadium and the players have changed, but it’s a family club. It doesn’t really feel like you’ve left. And it’s not just me who says that. Other former players say the same thing. That’s the impact this club has had on me. You can always come back to say hello or to train.
So will you be back again next year?
Well, it happened this year. It wasn’t meant to. I did it to help out, that’s all.
Arsène Wenger has come in for some heavy criticism this season. Have you wanted to defend him?
There’s no need to tie my colours to the mast. When you’re winning, you’re the best thing ever and when you’re not, things aren’t quite so good. I know that sounds clichéd but it’s true. I’ve been playing the game professionally for more than 17 years now. It’s fair enough. When you’re winning, you’re not actually as wonderful as some people might say you are. When you’re not winning, you’re not actually as rubbish as some people might claim either. You need to find a happy medium. You have that in the dressing rooms. Arsène is big enough to know how to manage. He knows how the game works.
And do you think this will be his last season as Arsenal manager?
I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.
You seem to have taken Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the rising star of English football, under your wing.
He is very good. He doesn’t remind me of anyone else. This is about him. I hope he stays at Arsenal for a long time and that he has a career that we’ll never forget.
Do you think he might be involved in the England squad for Euro 2012?
I don’t know. I’m not the England manager. All I can say is that he’s quality.
England and France are in the same Euro 2012 group. Who will you be supporting?
France! It’s a match like any other match. I want to see France play well against England and in their other matches and win the tournament. In the past, when
I was on the team, those matches were different. The main thing was not to lose, especially when I was playing at Arsenal. But now I’m just a supporter. I want France to do well. You always want to win against England. The current French team has a future.
France have had some well- documented problems in the recent past. How do you think they will fare this summer?
There’s a lot of talent in this generation of players, which Lolo [France coach, Laurent Blanc] will be able to channel. The most difficult thing is advancing from the group stage. It’s never easy to beat the host country, even if we do have a fairly good record against Ukraine in Ukraine. And England have a pretty good record against us, but we’ll see.
One player who launched his international career at senior level against England is Nicolas Anelka [scoring twice at Wembley in 1999]. Now he’s left England for Shanghai.
I’ve got so much respect for him and the career he’s had. He’s going to thrive there. We came through the national set-up together and since then Nico has shown everyone what he can do.
The MLS season has just begun. Are LA Galaxy still the team to beat?
Yeah, they’ve been good for three years now and have two finals to show for it. There was a real gap between them and the other teams. I hope we’ll be able to bring some silverware back to New York, but it won’t be easy. There’s Kansas, Salt Lake, Seattle, Houston, Dallas… They’re all good teams. They’re not easy to play against. Last year we’d lose five or six players every time there was an international match. If we do lose, I want them to beat us when we’re playing well.
Finally, a word on the NBA season. Are you still a San Antonio Spurs fan?
You’ve got to support those guys, even when the going gets tough. I support them because of Tony [Parker, Henry’s friend and Spurs player]. They’re my team; that’s my heart speaking. They’ll have to chase Oklahoma and others, too. But there’s still time. Nobody thought Dallas would win the title last year. And then you never know what sort of state your guys will be in by the time the play-offs come round. I started out as a Bulls fan because I grew up with Jordan. But now it’s the Spurs.
Words: Christophe Couvrat Photography: Thomas Hoeffgen
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