Henry re­turns to France to prove him­self in coach­ing

Oman Daily Observer - - FOOTBALL/GOLF -

PARIS: Hav­ing left France as a young World Cup win­ner in 1999, Thierry Henry re­turns al­most two decades later hop­ing his ap­point­ment by Monaco can mark the start of a suc­cess­ful coach­ing ca­reer.

Now 41, Henry was named as the new coach of the Ligue 1 side on Satur­day, re­plac­ing Leonardo Jardim, who was sacked in mid­week fol­low­ing a string of poor re­sults that left Monaco lan­guish­ing in 18th in the league.

Henry was one of the great­est play­ers of his gen­er­a­tion, the all-time lead­ing goal-scorer for both Arse­nal and the French na­tional team, but he has been build­ing to­wards this mo­ment for sev­eral years now.

Af­ter re­tir­ing from play­ing in 2014 at the end of four years with New York Red Bulls, Henry has di­vided his time be­tween coach­ing and pun­ditry work with Bri­tish broad­caster Sky.

He has ac­quired his coach­ing badges, and spent the last two years work­ing as an as­sis­tant to Roberto Martinez with the Bel­gian na­tional team.

Henry’s in­put as an at­tack­ing coach dur­ing Bel­gium’s run to the World Cup semi­fi­nals — where they lost to France — made an im­pres­sion on the play­ers he worked with.

“He loves foot­ball, he loves talk­ing about what he has done, how things used to be, about his first World Cup. He has given me lots of ad­vice to help me im­prove,” said Michy Bat­shuayi.

He had been com­bin­ing that role with an ex­tremely well re­mu­ner­ated job for Sky, where his com­ments were not al­ways to the lik­ing of his old Arse­nal and Monaco men­tor, Arsene Wenger — Henry ex­pressed con­cerns about the di­rec­tion Arse­nal were tak­ing to­wards the end of Wenger’s long reign, which came to an end in May. ARSE­NAL IN HIS SIGHTS? It is hard to imag­ine that Henry has not set his sights on one day man­ag­ing Arse­nal him­self, given his as­so­ci­a­tion with a club he rep­re­sented with such dis­tinc­tion for eight years that there is now a statue of him out­side the Emi­rates Sta­dium.

“Over the last 4 years, I have had some ex­tremely re­ward­ing coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in foot­ball. These ex­pe­ri­ences have only made me more de­ter­mined to ful­fil my long term am­bi­tion to be­come a foot­ball man­ager,” Henry wrote on Twit­ter this sum­mer, an­nounc­ing his de­ci­sion to quit his work as a pun­dit.

Born in the Paris sub­urbs to par­ents from the French Caribbean is­lands of Guade­loupe and Mar­tinique, Henry be­gan his play­ing ca­reer with Monaco, mak­ing his de­but in 1994, aged 17.

His full France de­but came aged 20 in 1997, and the fol­low­ing year he scored three goals as Les Bleus won the World Cup as hosts.

Henry also won Euro 2000 with his coun­try and scored 51 goals in 123 ap­pear­ances, al­though his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer ended in rather sour cir­cum­stances.

Af­ter his con­tro­ver­sial hand­ball against Ire­land se­cured qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Henry and France were knocked out in the group stage in a cam­paign marred by a player mutiny.

But noth­ing can sour his rep­u­ta­tion at Arse­nal, whom he joined in 1999 af­ter a brief stint at Ju­ven­tus. He scored 228 goals for the Gun­ners, no­tably star­ring in the “Invincibles” team that won the league un­beaten in 2004.

Af­ter leav­ing Arse­nal in 2007, he had three years at Barcelona capped by win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League un­der Pep Guardi­ola in 2009, be­fore fin­ish­ing his ca­reer in MLS.

Match­ing as a coach, the suc­cess he en­joyed as a player will not be easy, and he steps into a dif­fi­cult en­vi­ron­ment at Monaco, who reached the 2017 Cham­pi­ons League semi­fi­nals but find them­selves rooted in a land­scape dom­i­nated by Paris Saint-ger­main.

But the job of­fers Henry the chance to show the French pub­lic what they mostly missed dur­ing a play­ing ca­reer in which he was per­haps un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated at home, cer­tainly com­pared to his team-mate Zinedine Zidane.

“There is no doubt he has a great ca­reer ahead of him in coach­ing,” said French Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion boss Noel Le Graet re­cently. Now it is up to Henry to prove it.

— AFP

In this file photo taken on May 5, 1997 Monaco’s play­ers Vic­tor Ikpeba, Thierry Henry and John Collins cel­e­brate af­ter win­ning the French Ligue 1 cham­pi­onship match against Caen. For­mer Arse­nal star Thierry Henry was on Oc­to­ber 13 named as Monaco coach, the strug­gling Ligue 1 club an­nounced. The 41-year-old French World Cup win­ner, who had been work­ing as an as­sis­tant coach for the Bel­gian na­tional team, signed a con­tract through un­til June 2021.

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