- Thierry Henry has accepted a six-year deal with Sky Sports, thought to be worth £20million
- The Arsenal legend has returned to London, where he became a legend
- Henry: ‘I’ve taken my decision and the next chapter is coming. I love London, where everything changed in my life’
- Henry admits Arsene Wenger has ‘been a father-figure’ throughout his life
Turns out it wasn’t all va-va-voom. Thierry Henry put his success down to hard work and dedication, with a little inspiration from Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola and others, as he hung up his shooting boots and prepared for a new life in television.
Henry will shelve his coaching ambitions to accept a six-year deal with Sky Sports, thought to be worth £20million, starting in the new year with the 37-year-old Frenchman operating as an expert pundit and global ambassador.
It means a return to London, the city where he achieved status as a living legend and where a statue in his honour stands outside Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has retired from football to become a fox on the box with Sky Sports
Henry moved from Monaco to Arsenal in August 1999 for a fee of about £11m under Arsene Wenger
Henry became such a living legend in north London that he earned his very own statue at the Emirates
Henry has joined Sky Sports with Jamie Redknapp, Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville, Graeme Souness and Co
After two decades scoring goals, Henry said: ‘It feels like a logical step. It gives me the possibility to stay close to the game and help people understand it better.’
He has in the past spoken of his desire to coach, and Wenger said the door would always be open for him at Arsenal. ‘To become a coach you need to get your badges,’ said Henry.
‘That is the plan, to go through that process, but we are far from that at the moment. Everyone is busy at Arsenal and nobody is going to stop what they’re doing for me.
‘I’ve taken my decision and the next chapter is coming. I love London, where everything changed in my life. The Premier League made me grow as a player. It is still competitive and demanding. You see goals and the passion of the fans everywhere.
‘I can’t wait to get back. My thing will be talking about the game, not to have a go at anyone or talk about what the guy did in the morning or his haircut or the shirt he wears or his boots.’
Henry’s announcement was met with an outpouring of affection for one of the greatest footballers of the Premier League era. ‘A true inspiration,’ said Theo Walcott. ‘Top player, top guy,’ said Aaron Ramsey. ‘My idol,’ said Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. ‘A true legend,’ said Cesc Fabregas
Henry’s effortless technique on show as he shoots during the 2004 Champions League quarter-final
Henry scores past Francesco Toldo in one of Arsenal’s most famous wins – the 5-1 rout of Inter Milan in 2003
It was a reminder of the magnitude of his achievements, which also include world and European titles with France. ‘Playing for 20 years will be the biggest achievement,’ said Henry. ‘Not many strikers last that long. I have a lot of amazing memories — and some bad memories — along the way.
‘I was told at the start of my career that if you worked hard and dedicated yourself to the game, you would win some things along the way. That’s what I did and it did happen.’
Chief among those who mentored this fabulous talent was Wenger. ‘He’s been a father-figure,’ said Henry. ‘Everybody knows what he’s done for Arsenal and he helped me a lot. I hope I helped him a bit. I can talk to him about anything. He has always been the guy who inspired me.’
Wenger was Monaco manager when Henry emerged at the French club and signed him again for Arsenal from Juventus in 1999, converting him from a winger into a striker who was the club’s top scorer by the time he left north London for Barcelona, eight years later.
During this time, his goals fuelled two Barclays Premier League titles, the Invincibles, a 49-game unbeaten run, and a Champions League final.
He returned on loan from New York Red Bulls in 2012, and rates the first of his two goals in this brief second coming, in the FA Cup against Leeds, as his favourite. ‘I enjoyed scoring any goal that counted for something in the game,’ he said. ‘The one against Leeds, when I came back, stands out. It was a dream.’
He finished with 228 goals in 377 appearances for Arsenal and a total of 360 goals for his five clubs in five different countries, including 49 for Barcelona, when he played for Guardiola in one of the best club teams ever assembled.
Sky Sports shows more of the games that matter from the Barclays Premier League, with Thierry Henry joining a team of expert analysts that includes Jamie Carragher, Jamie Redknapp, Gary Neville and Graeme Souness.
Henry has admitted Arsenal manager Wenger has ‘been a father-figure’ to him in north London and Monaco