Arsenal and France great Henry retires

PARIS: Former World Cup winner and Arsenal’s record goal-scorer Thierry Henry announced on Tuesday he was retiring from football, bringing an end to his a glittering 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 who also picked up trophies with Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona and New York Red Bulls in a success-laden club career, was linked to a potential coaching role with the Gunners but announced he will become a TV analyst for Sky Sports in England.

“After 20 years in the game I have decided to retire from professional football,” Henry said in a statement on his Facebook page.

Henry, who holds the French record of 51 goals in 123 internationals and scored 228 goals with Arsenal in two spells including 175 English Premier League goals for the club, finished his playing career at Red Bulls earlier this month at the end of his four-year contract in Major League Soccer, saying he needed time to contemplate his next move.

“It has been an incredible journey and I would like to thank all the fans, team mates and individuals involved with AS Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal FC, FC Barcelona, the New York Red Bulls and of course the French National Team that have made my time in the game so special,” he said.

“It is now time for a different career path.

“I have had some amazing memories [mostly good!] and a wonderful experience. I hope you have enjoyed watching as much as I have enjoyed taking part.”

Born in the tough Parisian suburb of Les Ulis, Henry started playing football at the age of six and his talent did not stay unnoticed for long.

Nurtured at the national football centre 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 quarter-finals.

After a disappointing stint at Juventus, Henry bounced back under Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger in 1999 who switched him to a central role and he became one of Europe’s most feared strikers.

He was a crucial part of the 2003-2004 “Invincibles” team alongside fellow Frenchman Patrick Vieira, which went unbeaten as it stormed to the Premier League title.

Henry won the Premier League twice and the FA Cup three times with the Londoners before moving to Spanish giants Barcelona where he won a pair of La Liga crowns and the Champions League in 2009.

He finished his career in the United States, playing for the Red Bulls in the MLS, but returned to Arsenal for four matches on loan from the Red Bulls in 2012, coming on as a substitute to score the winner against Leeds in the third round of the FA Cup.

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