HARRISON, NJ (Jan. 6, 2012) – The New York Red Bulls announced today that the club has reached an agreement to send forward Thierry Henry to English Premiership Club, Arsenal FC, on a loan that will see New York’s captain return to the Red Bulls by the middle of February.
This loan represents Henry’s official return to Arsenal, the team where he became the club’s most prolific striker and all-time leading scorer with 226 goals in all competitions. The World Cup, European Championship and UEFA Champions League winner will be eligible to play for Arsenal immediately.
“It is unreal to be honest. But when it comes to Arsenal my heart will always do the talking,” Henry said.
“Once I knew the plan behind it I was OK with it. I am not coming here to be a hero or prove anything. I am just coming here to help. People have to understand that. Marouane (Chamakh) and Gervinho are going to the Africa Cup of Nations so I was asked to fill in the gap. It is a loan deal and I’ll be on the bench most of the time. If I can make the bench that is! The boss has a team here already who are doing something good. I am just going to be part of the squad.
“I want to send a message to the fans of New York Red Bulls as well. I always said I would not play in Europe again. But it is hard for me when it comes to Arsenal. I am not coming here for the whole season, I will be back and I want to win the MLS Cup with the Red Bulls. I hope it is win-win situation where I can help Arsenal and come back fit for the MLS season.” (FULL HENRY QUOTE SHEET BELOW).
“We believe that this is a beneficial move for all parties involved,” said Red Bulls General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler. “From our perspective, we believe that Thierry will have the prime opportunity to develop his match fitness playing with Arsenal in preparation for our MLS regular season campaign. We are personally thrilled that Thierry has earned this chance to rejoin and help his former club and look forward to seeing him in preseason camp in February.”
Henry was the Red Bulls’ 2011 Most Valuable Player, taking home the club’s Golden Boot after scoring a team-high 14 goals in the regular season. The Frenchman, who made the MLS All-Star Team and was part of MLS’ season-ending Best XI, played in and started 26 games, logging 2,266 minutes and registering four assists in his first full season in the League. He also notched his first career MLS Cup Playoffs goal in New York’s 2-0 victory over FC Dallas on Oct. 26 in the Wild Card round. His 14 regular season goals ranked third-best in MLS this season.
Henry was with Arsenal from 1999-07, becoming one of the side’s all-time great players. The French marksman was the top scorer in the English Premiership (2002, 2004-06) a record four times and helped Arsenal win the Premiership championship in 2002 and 2004. The 32-year-old also helped lead his team to three English FA Cups and claimed the European Golden Boot in 2004 and 2005.
Henry will return to the New York Red Bulls in the middle of February and rejoin his teammates for their final weeks of preseason ahead of the team’s season opener on Sunday, March 11 against FC Dallas at 3:00 PM ET at FC Dallas Stadium. The match will be televised live by NBC Sports Network – the first MLS game broadcasted by the League’s new national partner, NBC.
The Red Bulls’ 2012 home opener at Red Bull Arena will take place on Sunday, March 25 against the Colorado Rapids at 4:00 PM ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN. Season ticket plans for the Red Bulls’ 2012 schedule at Red Bull Arena are available now by calling 1.877.RBSOCCER or logging onto www.newyorkredbulls.com/tickets.
TRANSCRIPT OF HENRY INTERVIEW WITH ARSENAL PLAYER
On being back…
It’s kind of unreal to be honest, it’s all happened so fast. The boss spoke to me before the Wolverhampton game and I had to think about it to be honest. I came to the decision that I was going to come back here to help, it was going to be a loan deal. I’m not coming back here to be a hero or prove anything, I’m coming here to help. The boss has his squad, Marouane and Gervinho are going away to the Africa Cup of Nations and he asked me if I wanted to fill in the gap. It was kind of a weird one and it did happen pretty fast but when it comes down to Arsenal it’s pretty hard for me to say no. If you ask anybody if they want to come play again and help the team you love and support, it was difficult for me to say no knowing the part I was going to play. As I said I am not here to be a hero and people do have to understand that. We have a team here, the boss has a team here that are in a good position compared to what happened at the beginning. I’m here to help the boss and the guys that need me.
I am working really hard right now to be in shape because that also has to be done right now. I need to work with Tony Colbert, the fitness coach, and make sure I can be available as quick as I can. I hope people are not going to compare what I did here before. I’m going to be here most of the time on the bench, we all know it and I’m not stupid to think I’m going to start. It’s a helping process.
As long as I am on the same page as the boss, that’s all I want. The boss knows that I need to work a bit so I know I am not able to play out there right from the start. It was pretty easy for me to accept. You have guys that are here for a long time doing a job for the club, so yes, you are going to have people expecting a lot. But with the boss having said I need to do more of a helping role most of the time, coming from the bench, if I do make it. We are kind of talking like it’s a sure thing if I do make the bench. But there is a team already in position to play. I’m not stupid enough to think I am going to play – we all know that Robin van Persie is the main guy up front. Obviously Gervinho is going to go but then you have the likes of Theo Walcott and those guys around still. As I said to you, I’m just going to be a part of the squad.
How he has changed…
It’s kind of weird. I’ll be honest, it’s kind of unreal. I always said I was never going to come back and play in Europe again but when the team you love and support asks you back, it’s kind of hard to say no. But if you go back to what has changed, a lot has changed. I don’t know a lot of people now, you have some new staff around at the training ground. I only played with Alex Song, Robin, Theo, Djourou, Diaby, and the rest of the guys apart from that I didn’t play with too much. I forgot Tomas Rosicky and Manuel Almunia too obviously. Other than that, I did not know a big part of the squad. You have to get used to that and wearing the shirt of the team again. But once I knew what the plan was behind it, I was pretty OK with it. When it comes down to Arsenal my heart will always do the talking. I was thinking about it over the two or three days I had to think about it. If you ask anybody involved with Arsenal Football Club or anybody that loves it, ‘can you help this team?’ Whatever it is; five seconds, five minutes, 10 minutes, being in the dressing room trying to have some input of what you know and what you have learned – it was a no-brainer. But I did have to speak with the boss and know his plan and I went with it.
On what he offers off the pitch…
Well right from the start, as I said, it looks more like I’m going to be a bench player. Or maybe not on the bench but more of an out of the side type of player. As I said to you, I need to get ready. But I can definitely have some input out there, to talk to the guys and let them know what it means to win. I am a competitor and that will never leave my body. Now there is a big part of me working with the fitness coach and being ready to help this team. I never had any expectations, even when I first came to Arsenal, and will try to play 100 per cent whenever I get the chance to. I’m just going to help those guys get through some difficult moments.
On relationship with RvP…
Right now Robin is flying, I can be around and talk to him but he is doing what he does best: scoring goals. You don’t want to disturb that, you want to help that and make sure you can give him some help. He went to the final of the World Cup and like the fans say, he scores when he wants. When the boss spoke to me about coming back, I wanted to make sure I didn’t disturb the team that was in place. That was important to me, I am a fan don’t forget that. The team did something incredible to come back to where they are right now, we are far from the first position but if you talk about what the team has done since Man Utd, they have done pretty well.
I know people want silverware, but you have to think about the long term and to think about what they have been doing for a very long time is amazing.
Dennis Bergkamp goes without saying because of his quality and what he was at the Club, but when you have the likes of Martin Keown, Patrick [Vieira], Gilberto Silva, Ray Parlour, that can always help. Sometimes people see the guys that are out there on the field, but you have some important guys that sometimes you don’t notice, but they are really important. The main thing is giving my input, talking, helping whether it is on or off the field.
On coming back…
“It’s kind of weird. Arsenal are the only club that could make me come back and play, and actually did. I also want to send a message to the Red Bulls and my fans and team-mates there – I said I was never going to come back and play in Europe, but it becomes hard when it comes to Arsenal and my heart. At the end of the day I am not coming back for the whole season, I will be back to play with my team because I am 100 per cent committed to winning the MLS with the Red Bulls.
“As soon as I knew the plan, to come back and help because those guys [Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho] were going to the Africa Cup of Nations, I said in the meantime I will get fit and be ready to go back to my team. To me it was a win-win situation. I want to help the club that I love and support, but I will also come back and be ready for the MLS.
On how much he has changed…
“I am not 25 anymore, I am not going to take the ball from the middle of the park and dribble past five or six players. Don’t expect that. I remember Dennis [Bergkamp] and he used to be the main front guy. Suddenly he was playing behind the striker and if you have the awareness to see things before players, you can get away with not having your legs. If you look at Ryan Giggs, it’s not the same Ryan Giggs who used to take the ball from the wing or from Denis Irwin and dribble past everyone and deliver a great cross. But what Ryan Giggs has is he can see the game, he is always available, he puts himself in a position where he can receive the ball alone and then you will never lose your touch. That’s what I am going to try to bring to this team if I have to play.
On the statue unveiling…
“I am not ashamed to say that I cried. It’s kind of unreal because you are talking about a statue and here I am now a few weeks later playing for Arsenal. It wasn’t planned. I didn’t know that was going to happen. You can ask the boss, he said it himself – he was thinking about it but he didn’t talk to me. It happened pretty fast. The Club did what they did for me with the statue and I still can’t believe it. Now I have to play – it’s weird. Arsenal and me has always been a love story, with some bad days. Hopefully people agree with me that there were more good days than bad days, but I just love Arsenal Football Club. When the Club you love asks you just to be a squad player, so be it. I just love the Club so much.
On being in some massive games…
“It’s crazy. I don’t know if I will still be there for the Tottenham game because I also want to go back and prepare with my team. Being the team captain I have some duties to respect. I will have to talk with Arsène. I will definitely be there for the Man Utd game. I don’t expect to start. The team will be what it is, but if I can give 10, 15, 20 minutes or whatever Arsène thinks I can give then obviously [I will play]. Being involved with Arsenal again is just amazing. Even if it is just five seconds, one second, or just talking in the dressing room, I will give my best whatever it is.
On closure to his Arsenal career…
“For me being able to come here and train, being in the dressing room and seeing all the training staff, I have no words to describe it. To wear the jersey one more time, I can only be honoured. People might think I am just saying that, but when I left this Club I cried, I cried for the statue. I haven’t cried a lot in my career, but when I do it seems that something is happening with Arsenal. In my time here I always tried to be honest, and I think the fans can see that. When I am happy, I am happy and when I am not they can see it too. The fans did recognise that they could read me. It’s just me. I can be a pain at times, but I love the Club. They say love is blind, but it is difficult for me to say no to Arsenal.