Henry retires from French national team
Thierry Henry is retiring from the French national team.
The 32-year-old forward announced his decision during an interview Thursday at the offices of The Associated Press before a news conference to discuss his signing with Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls.
A member of France's 1998 world championship and 2000 European champion teams, Henry said he will not try to emulate England's David Beckham and commute between the U.S. and Europe.
"I always want to be here 100 percent and fully committed to this cause and the organization," Henry said.
Henry had 51 goals in 123 international appearances. He made his debut Oct. 11, 1997, scoring in injury time of a 2-1 win over South Africa. His finale was June 22 against the Bafana Bafana, when he entered in the 55th minute as the French were eliminated from the World Cup with a 2-1, first-round loss.
"That was my last game against South Africa," he said. "Ironically, it was also my first game in the national team against South Africa."
Henry made up his mind before the tournament.
"I couldn't announce it before because that's not the type of thing you announce before a World Cup," he said.
French players went on strike and refused to train before their final match when striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home for verbally using coach Raymond Domenech, who was replaced after the tournament by Laurent Blanc.
"We still have a good team," Henry said. "I think the guys that are going to stay, they still are great players. If you see the guys playing individually in their team, they're always doing great. But as you know, in a team sport, it's always a matter of having a great team. it's not only about individuals, and I think Laurent Blanc can do this."
Still, Henry doesn't think this World Cup was the lowest point in his career.
"Going to the World Cup in South Korea in 2002 was I will say my worst experience ever as a player," he said. "As a group, we didn't even score one goal and we were the reigning world champion. And we bounced back, and we went to the final of the world cup in 2006. Obviously we didn't win it. It still hurts."
Swedish referee Martin Hansson failed to call the hand ball and cried after the match when he learned he blew the call.
"I think they will still have something, yeah, but that's the game," he said.
He compared it with another clear hand ball call that was missed.
"It was kind of funny to see (Brazil's) Luis Fabiano score this goal against Ivory Coast in the World Cup, and nobody ever said anything. It was kind of weird, but that's the way the game is. I already talked a lot about what happened that day, and I made it clear it wasn't intentional. It was like a bad movement at the end and I didn't score the goal."
He also compared it Arsenal's 2-1 loss to Liverpool in the 2001 FA Cup final, when referee Steve Dunn failed to call a penalty on Stephane Henchoz for handling Henry's shot on the line.
"You know how many games I lost like this? Lost an FA Cup final like this," Henry said. "After the game, I did apologize and I was saying this to the guys on the pitch, to the Irish guys. But, hey, the rules of the game are the ref doesn't blow the whistle, you've got to play."
Hansson, while selected for the World Cup referee pool, didn't get to ref any games in South Africa.
"When I do a mistake, when you do a mistake, you get punished," Henry said. "So I'm not the guy who sets the rules. I'm not the guy who did punish him. But that is the way it is."