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Nine gems and a handball: Thierry Henry on camera

Thierry Henry celebrates after scoring Arsenal's second goal against Manchester United at Highbury on April 16, 2003
Thierry Henry celebrates after scoring Arsenal's second goal against Manchester United at Highbury on April 16, 2003 Adrian Dennis, AFP
4 min

Former Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry has announced his retirement from football after a glittering two decades in the game. We look at ten memorable moments from his career, from the finest to the less flattering.


1 – The prodigy

Henry was born in the tough Parisian suburb of Les Ulis and nurtured at France’s national football centre, alongside the likes of Nicolas Anelka and David Trezeguet. He began his professional career at Monaco, under then manager Arsène Wenger, winning the French league in 1997.

2 – Champion du monde

France’s path to World Cup glory on home soil is generally remembered for Zinedine Zidane’s brace in the 3-0 final victory over Brazil, or defender Lilian Thuram’s unlikely double in the semis against Croatia. But the young Henry played no small part in the 1998 tournament, netting three goals in the group stage and calmly scoring in the gruelling quarter-final penalty shootout against Italy.

3 – The Gunner

Henry failed to score in his first eight games at Arsenal, whom he joined in 1999 after a disappointing stint at Juventus. But he would go on to net 226 goals in 369 appearances for the Gunners over eight seasons, winning seven trophies. It’s hard to pick one goal among so many gems, but the outrageous volley fired past Manchester United’s Fabien Barthez in 2000 is without a doubt football at its finest.

4 – Les Bleus do it again

By then, Henry was both World and European champion, having scored three goals in France’s successful campaign at the Euro 2000. As with the World Cup two years earlier, Henry was not on target in the final, leaving it to his former Monaco teammate David Trezeguet to net the last-gasp winner in the final against Italy.

5 – The Invincibles

Arsène Wenger’s Gunners were unbeaten in the 2003-4 season, earning the nickname “Invincibles”. Arsenal won the title by a staggering 11 points, while Henry was the league’s top scorer with 30 goals.

6 – Before the headbutt

The 2006 World Cup is best remembered for the infamous Zidane headbutt and penalty shootout that denied France a fairytale win. Before that, Henry was instrumental in reviving Les Bleus’ flagging campaign in the group stages and scoring the only goal in the memorable quarter-final against Brazil – arguably the finest performance of the Zidane era.

7 – Beyond Platini

It was hardly his best goal, but Henry’s second-half strike against Lithuania in their 2007 Euro qualifier made him France’s all-time top scorer, ahead of legend Michel Platini. Henry would go on to score another nine times for his home country, setting an unbeaten record of 51 international goals.

8 – Europe’s finest

Henry’s Barcelona days were not his happiest, but they did hand him the one title missing in his medal haul: the 2009 Champions League. Alongside Argentina’s Lionel Messi, the Frenchman was part of one of football’s greatest ever teams, which also won a couple of La Liga titles and a European Cup Winners’ Cup.

9 –The hand of ‘Frog’

“Titi” Henry picked up more silverware in 2009 than in any other year. But he also acquired the one real blemish on his otherwise glittering career, during an infamous World Cup qualifier against Ireland. France had been heavily outplayed by a spirited Irish squad in Paris when Henry’s handball handed the home side an underserved ticket for the World Cup – which Ireland is yet to forgive.

10 – Fairytale comeback

Henry no doubt regretted his handball, not least after France made utter fools of themselves at the World Cup in South Africa, going on a strike before being dumped out of the tournament in the group stage. Days later, Henry announced he was quitting Europe to seek a fresh start in the United States. At 33, he joined the New York Red Bulls, where he won two Eastern Conference titles and an MLS Supporters' Shield. But he returned to Arsenal for a two-month loan spell in 2012, in time to score “the most emotional goal of his career” during an FA Cup match against Leeds.


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