Thierry Daniel Henry (born 17 August 1977 in Paris, France) is a French football player. Renowned for his pace, he plays as a striker for the France national team and FC Barcelona.
Henry was born and brought up in the tough neighbourhood of Les Ulis, Essonne, where as a youngster he played for an array of local sides and showed great promise as a goal scorer. AS Monaco spotted him in 1990 and signed him up instantly. Handed his professional club debut in 1994, he stayed at Monaco until 1998, where good form earned him an international call-up. Henry then moved to Italian giants Juventus, but after a disappointing season playing on the wing, he joined Arsenal for a fee of £10.5 million in 1999.
It was at Arsenal that Henry made his name as a top footballer. Initially, he struggled in the Premiership, but he soon emerged as Arsenal's top goal scorer in almost his every season there. Long-time mentor and coach Arsene Wenger's conversion of Henry into a prolific striker made him Arsenal's all-time leading scorer with over 200 goals. With the Gunners, Henry won two league titles and three FA Cups. He was also twice nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year and twice received the Barclays Premiership player of the season award. Henry spent his final two seasons with Arsenal as club captain, leading them to the UEFA Champions League final in 2006. In June 2007, after eight years in an Arsenal shirt, the French striker transferred to FC Barcelona for a fee of £16.1 million.
With the French national squad, Henry has also enjoyed success, having won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Given his accomplishments, he is today regarded by many as one of the best footballers in the world. Off the pitch, as a result of his own experience, Henry is an active spokesperson against football racism.
Henry is of Antillean heritage; his father, Antoine, is from Guadeloupe (La Désirade island), and his mother, Maryse, is from Martinique. He grew up in the heavily urbanised Les Ulis, a tough environment for the youngster. Despite its hardships, the town provided good facilities for footballers. In 1983, the six-year-old Henry showed great potential, which prompted Claude Chezelle to recruit the youngster at the local club CO Les Ulis. Five years later, Henry played his first game for the club. His father put a lot of pressure on him to attend training, although the youngster was not particularly drawn to football. Henry went on to join US Palaiseau in 1989, but after a year his father fell out with the club. Henry then moved to Viry-Châtillon for two years. US Palaiseau coach Jean-Marie Panza followed him there; Henry would name Panza as his mentor in future years.
In 1990, AS Monaco sent scout Arnold Catalano to watch Henry. He scored all six goals as his side won 6–0. Catalano asked Henry to join Monaco without even attending a trial first. Catalano requested that Henry complete a course at the elite academy Clairefontaine, but the director there was reluctant to accept Henry due to his poor school results. Despite this, Henry was allowed to complete the course, and he joined Arséne Wenger's AS Monaco as a youth player. Subsequently, Henry signed professional forms with AS Monaco and was given his professional debut in 1995. Wenger put Henry on the left wing because he believed that his pace, natural ball control and skill would be more effective against full-backs than centre-backs. In his four seasons with Monaco, the young winger scored 21 goals in 125 appearances, and helped the club win the Ligue 1 title in 1996-97.
In June 1997, Henry's good form was rewarded with a call-up to the U-20 French national team, where he played in the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship alongside future teammates William Gallas and David Trezeguet. Within four months, France head coach Aimé Jacquet called Henry up to the senior team. The 20-year-old made his senior international debut on October 11, 1997 in a 2–1 win against South Africa. Jacquet was so impressed with Henry that he took him to the 1998 World Cup. Although Henry was a largely unknown quantity at international level, he ended the tournament as France's top scorer with three goals. He was scheduled to appear in the final—where France beat Brazil 3–0—as a substitute, but the sending off of Marcel Desailly forced a defensive change instead. On Bastille Day 1998, he was awarded France's highest decoration, the Légion d'Honneur.
Henry's good form for Monaco continued during the 1997-98 season, as he helped the club reach the UEFA Champions League semi-final. He then left Monaco in January 1999, one year before his friend and teammate David Trezeguet, and moved to Italian Serie A club Juventus for £10.5 million. The Frenchman played on the wing, but he was unable to cope with the Italian defensive discipline of the Serie A. Henry scored just three goals in 16 appearances.
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