Ex-World Cup hero, France legend Thierry Henry retires from football

Ex-World Cup hero, France legend Thierry Henry retires from football

Published Dec. 16, 2014 5:11 a.m. ET

PARIS --  

Former Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending a 20-year career in which he earned a place in the pantheon of modern greats.

The 37-year-old Henry, a member of the France teams that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship, was linked to a potential coaching role with the Gunners after ending his career at the New York Red Bulls, but announced he will become a TV analyst.

Henry, who holds the French record of 51 goals in 123 internationals, started his career at Monaco and also played for Juventus and Barcelona. He netted 175 English Premier League goals and is the Gunners' all-time leading goalscorer.


"You kind of never leave Arsenal. How many comebacks do you make? At one point, it will turn out to be a bad movie," Henry said, when asked if he thought about another stint at the club where a bronze statue of himself has been erected.

"We all love the first Rocky, but I'm not too sure about the last one."

Henry, who was born in the tough Parisian suburb of Les Ulis, started playing football at the age of six, and his talent did not stay unnoticed for long. Nurtured at the national football center alongside Nicolas Anelka and David Trezeguet, the astute, fast, and technical forward started his professional career at Monaco, where he won the French league in 1997.

His achievements with Monaco opened the door to the France team, and he was selected for the World Cup on his home soil. Although Zinedine Zidane was the big star of the tournament, Henry did not disappoint, and scored his first international goal in the group stage against South Africa, then a brace against Saudi Arabia. He also showed his coolness under pressure, scoring from the spot against Italy in a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals.

"When they (Henry and Trezeguet) had to take penalties against Italy in the quarterfinals it was no problem, even though there was a weight and a responsibility on their shoulders," said Didier Deschamps, the then France captain. "It shaped the careers they would go on to have."

After a disappointing stint at Juventus, Henry bounced back under the helm of Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger in 1999.

After failing to score in his first eight games, Henry netted 26 goals that season and went on to score 226 times in 369 appearances for Arsenal to 2007. He won seven trophies at Arsenal, among them two Premier Leagues, including the unbeaten 2003-04 side. He returned on a two-month loan in January 2012 during the MLS offseason, adding two goals to his English tally.

From Arsenal, Henry joined Barcelona, becoming part of Pep Guardiola's side that won six major trophies two years later, including the Spanish title and a Champions League triumph over United.

His international career finished on a low. There was the infamous handball in the decisive goal against Ireland in a 2010 World Cup playoff, then in South Africa the team didn't win a game, and refused to train before their final match, after Anelka was sent home for verbally abusing coach Raymond Domenech.

"It has been an incredible journey ... I have had some amazing memories (mostly good), and a wonderful experience," Henry wrote on Facebook. "I hope you have enjoyed watching as much as I have enjoyed taking part."