Monaco hires Thierry Henry as new coach

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - SPORT -

Thierry Henry (photo) is back where it all started.

France’s all-time lead­ing scorer and an Arse­nal great landed his first man­age­rial job yes­ter­day af­ter Monaco hired him as a re­place­ment for Leonardo Jardim, who was dis­missed this week.

The 41-year-old Henry started his pro­fes­sional ca­reer at the Riviera club and played in the French league with Monaco from 1994-99.

He’s signed on as coach for three sea­sons, to June 2021. He starts on Mon­day.

“I thank AS Monaco for giv­ing me the op­por­tu­nity to coach the team of this club which is so spe­cial to me,” Henry said in a state­ment on the club web­site. “I am very happy to come back to AS Monaco and ex­tremely de­ter­mined to meet the chal­lenges ahead. I can­not wait to meet the play­ers to start work­ing to­gether.”

Henry has no ex­pe­ri­ence as a man­ager but had been work­ing as an as­sis­tant to Bel­gium coach Roberto Martinez since 2016. He was part of the staff that led the team to third place at the World Cup in Rus­sia.

Henry be­came the lat­est mem­ber of the France squad that won the 1998 World Cup to fully em­brace a coach­ing ca­reer, fol­low­ing Lau­rent Blanc, Didier Deschamps, Pa­trick Vieira, and Zinedine Zidane among oth­ers.

“Thierry is ready to be head coach in a club,” Martinez told L’Equipe news­pa­per in an in­ter­view pub­lished this week. “He likes what he does, and en­joy­ing it is an es­sen­tial part of this job.”

Henry turned down an of­fer from Bordeaux this sum­mer and was in the run­ning at As­ton Villa.

At Monaco, which is win­less in its past 10 games in all com­pe­ti­tions, Henry’s first task will be to get the team back in con­tention in the league. A tra­di­tional pow­er­house in French foot­ball, Monaco se­cured top-three fin­ishes over the past five sea­sons and won the 2017 league un­der Jardim but is cur­rently in 18th place in the stand­ings, and in last place in its Cham­pi­ons League group.

Henry’s first-class ca­reer was launched in 1994 by Monaco coach Arsene Wenger, who also five years later brought him to Arse­nal.

Wenger pro­moted Henry to Monaco’s first team af­ter the fast and tech­ni­cally gifted for- ward scored more than 30 goals with the un­der-17s in one year. Aged 17, Henry played his first French league game in Au­gust 1994. He ended up play­ing 141 matches in all com­pe­ti­tions with Monaco, win­ning the 1997 league.

At Arse­nal, he joined the pan­theon of mod­ern greats. He scored at least 20 league goals in six con­sec­u­tive sea­sons and be­came Arse­nal’s all-time lead­ing goalscorer. He won seven tro­phies with the Gun­ners, among them two Pre­mier Leagues, in­clud­ing the un­beaten 2003-04 side.

Henry ended his 20-year play­ing ca­reer four years ago af­ter claim­ing mul­ti­ple tro­phies, in­clud­ing the Cham­pi­ons League and the World Cup. Af­ter he re­tired, he worked as a TV an­a­lyst and quit his role as a U.K. Sky Sports pun­dit in July to fo­cus on his am­bi­tion to be­come a man­ager.

Henry holds the French record of 51 goals in 123 in­ter­na­tion­als. He won the 2000 Eu­ro­pean Cham­pi­onship but fin­ished on a low. In 2009 came the in­fa­mous hand­ball in the de­ci­sive goal against Ire­land in a World Cup play­off. At that World Cup in South Africa, France didn’t win a game, and caused a scan­dal when it re­fused to train be­fore its fi­nal match.

Coach Ray­mond Domenech ar­guably played his part in the de­ba­cle by drop­ping the hugely in­flu­en­tial Henry from the start­ing lineup and sour­ing a frag­ile at­mo­sphere within the squad. It was a sad and hu­mil­i­at­ing end to Henry’s in­ter­na­tional ca­reer when he made his fi­nal ap­pear­ance as a sec­ond-half sub­sti­tute, with his shell-shocked side trail­ing South Africa 2-0 and head­ing for the exit gate.

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