Thierry Daniel Henry (French pronunciation: [tjɛʁi ɑ̃ʁi]; born 17 August 1977) is a retired French professional footballer who played as a forward. He played for Monaco, Juventus, Barcelona, New York Red Bulls and spent eight years at Arsenal where he is the club's all-time record goalscorer. At international level he represented France and is his country's record goalscorer.
Henry was born in Les Ulis, Essonne (a suburb of Paris), where he played for an array of local sides as a youngster and showed great promise as a goalscorer. He was spotted by Monaco in 1990 and signed instantly, making his professional debut in 1994. Good form led to an international call-up in 1998, after which he signed for the Serie A defending champions Juventus. He had a disappointing season playing on the wing, before joining Arsenal for £11 million in 1999.
It was at Arsenal that Henry made his name as a world-class player. Despite initially struggling in the Premier League, he emerged as Arsenal's top goalscorer for almost every season of his tenure there. Under long-time mentor and coach Arsène Wenger, Henry became a prolific striker and Arsenal's all-time leading scorer with 228 goals in all competitions. He won two league titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners. In 2003 and 2004 Henry was runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year. He was also named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, and the FWA Footballer of the Year three times. Henry spent his final two seasons with Arsenal as club captain, leading them to the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final.
In June 2007, after eight years with Arsenal, he transferred to Barcelona for a fee of €24 million. In 2009, he was an integral part of the club's historic treble when they won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League. He went on to achieve an unprecedented sextuple by also winning the Supercopa de España, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. In total, Henry has been named in the UEFA Team of the Year five times. In 2010, he joined the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, winning the Eastern Conference title with the team in 2010. He returned to Arsenal on loan for two months in 2012. In 2013, Henry with the New York Red Bulls won the MLS Supporters' Shield.
Henry enjoyed success with the French national team, winning the 1998 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2000 and 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. In October 2007, he surpassed Michel Platini's record to become France's top goalscorer of all time. Henry retired from international football after the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Off the pitch, Henry is an active spokesperson against racism in football, partially due to his own experiences. He married English model Nicole Merry in 2003 and had a daughter with her, but they divorced in 2007. Henry was also one of the top commercially marketed footballers; he was ranked ninth in the world in 2006.
Henry is of Antillean heritage: his father, Antoine, is from Guadeloupe (La Désirade island), and his mother, Maryse, is from Martinique. He was born and raised in Les Ulis suburb of Paris which, despite sometimes being seen as a tough neighbourhood, provided good footballing facilities. As a seven-year-old, Henry showed great potential, prompting Claude Chezelle to recruit him to the local club CO Les Ulis. His father pressured him to attend training, although the youngster was not particularly drawn to football. He joined US Palaiseau in 1989, but after a year his father fell out with the club, so Henry moved to ES Viry-Châtillon and played there for two years. US Palaiseau coach Jean-Marie Panza, Henry's future mentor, followed him there.
Monaco (1992-1999) and Juventus (1999)
In 1990, Monaco sent scout Arnold Catalano to watch Henry, then at the age of 13 in a match. Henry scored all six goals as his side won 6-0. Catalano asked him to join Monaco without even attending a trial first. Catalano requested that Henry complete a course at the elite Clairefontaine academy, and despite the director's reluctance to admit Henry due to his poor school results, he was allowed to complete the course and joined Arsène Wenger's Monaco as a youth player. Subsequently, Henry signed professional forms with Monaco, and made his professional debut on 31 August 1994, in a 2-0 loss against Nice. Although Wenger suspected that Henry should be deployed as a striker, he 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.
After a tentative start to his Monaco career, Henry was named the French Young Footballer of the Year in 1996, and in the 1996-97 season, his solid performances helped the club win the Ligue 1 title. During the 1997-98 season, he was instrumental in leading his club to the UEFA Champions League semi-final, setting a French record by scoring seven goals in the competition. By his third season, he had received his first cap for the national team, and was part of the winning team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He continued to impress at his tenure with Monaco, and in his five seasons with the French club, the young winger scored 20 league goals in 105 appearances.
Henry left Monaco in January 1999, one year before his intimate and closest teammate David Trezeguet, and moved to Italian Serie A club Juventus for £10.5 million. He played on the wing, but he was ineffective against the Serie A defensive discipline in a position uncharacteristic for him, and scored just three goals in 16 appearances.
Unsettled in Italy, Henry transferred from Juventus on 3 August 1999 to Arsenal for an estimated fee of £11 million, reuniting with his former manager Arsène Wenger. It was at Arsenal that Henry made his name as a world-class footballer, and although his transfer was not without controversy, Wenger was convinced he was worth the transfer fee. Brought in as a replacement for fellow French forward Nicolas Anelka, Henry was immediately moulded into a striker by Wenger, a move that would pay rich dividends in years to come. However, doubts were raised about his ability to adapt to the quick and physical English game when he failed to score in his first eight games. After several difficult months in England, Henry even conceded that he had to "be re-taught everything about the art of striking." These doubts were dispelled when he ended his first season at Arsenal with an impressive goal tally of 26. Arsenal finished second in the Premier League behind Manchester United, and lost in the UEFA Cup Final against Turkish club Galatasaray.
Coming off the back of a victorious UEFA Euro 2000 campaign with the national team, Henry was ready to make an impact in the 2000-01 season. Despite recording fewer goals and assists than his first season, Henry's second season with Arsenal proved to be a breakthrough, as he became the club's top goalscorer. Armed with one of the league's best attacks, Arsenal finished runner-up to perennial rivals Manchester United in the Premier League. The team also reached the final of the FA Cup, losing 2-1 to Liverpool. Henry remained frustrated, however, by the fact that he had yet to help the club win honours, and frequently expressed his desire to establish Arsenal as a powerhouse.
Success finally arrived during the 2001-02 season. Arsenal finished seven points above Liverpool to win the Premier League title, and defeated Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup Final. Henry became the league's top goalscorer and netted 32 goals in all competitions as he led Arsenal to a double and his first silverware with the club. There was much expectation that Henry would replicate his club form for France during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, but the defending champions suffered a shock exit at the group stage.
2002-03 proved to be another productive season for Henry, as he scored 32 goals in all competitions while contributing 23 assists—remarkable returns for a striker. In doing so, he led Arsenal to another FA Cup triumph (where he was man-of-the-match in the Final), although Arsenal failed to retain their Premier League title. Throughout the season, he competed with Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy for the league scoring title, but the Dutchman edged Henry to the Golden Boot by a single goal. Nonetheless, Henry was named both the PFA Players' Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year. His rising status as one of the world's best footballers was affirmed when he emerged runner-up for the 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year award.
Entering the 2003-04 season, Arsenal were determined to reclaim the Premier League crown. Henry was again instrumental in Arsenal's exceptionally successful campaign; together with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pirès, Henry ensured that the Gunners became the first team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league season unbeaten, claiming the league title in the process. Apart from being named for the second year running as the PFA Players' Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year, Henry emerged once again as the runner-up for 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year award. With 39 goals scored in all competitions, the Frenchman led the league in goals scored and won the European Golden Boot. However, as was the case in 2002, Henry was unable to lead the national side to honours during UEFA Euro 2004.
This dip in success was compounded when Arsenal failed again to secure back-to-back league titles when they lost out to Chelsea in the 2004-05 season, although Arsenal did win the FA Cup (the Final of which Henry missed through injury). Henry maintained his reputation as one of Europe's most feared strikers as he led the league in scoring, and with 31 goals in all competitions, he was the co-recipient (with Diego Forlán) of the European Golden Boot, and is currently the only player to have officially won the award twice in a row (Ally McCoist also had two Golden Boots in a row, but both were deemed unofficial). The unexpected departure of Arsenal's captain Patrick Vieira in the 2005 close season led to Henry being awarded club captaincy, a role which many felt was not naturally suited for him; the captaincy is more commonly given to defenders or midfielders, who are better-placed on the pitch to read the game. Along with being chief goalscorer, he was responsible for leading a very young team which had yet to gel fully.
The 2005-06 season proved to be one of remarkable personal achievements for Henry. On 17 October 2005, Henry became the club's top goalscorer of all time; two goals against Sparta Prague in the Champions League meant he broke Ian Wright's record of 185 goals. On 1 February 2006, he scored a goal against West Ham United, bringing his league goal tally up to 151, breaking Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin's league goals record. Henry scored his 100th league goal at Highbury, a feat unparalleled in the history of the club, and a unique achievement in the Premier League. On the final day of the Premier League season, Henry scored a hat-trick against Wigan Athletic in the last ever match played at Highbury. He completed the season as the league's top goalscorer, was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year for the third time in his career, and was selected in the FIFA World XI.
Nevertheless, Arsenal failed to win the Premier League title again, but hopes of a trophy were revived when Arsenal reached the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final. The Gunners eventually lost 2-1 to Barcelona, and Arsenal's inability to win the league title for two consecutive seasons combined with the relative inexperience of the Arsenal squad caused much speculation that Henry would leave for another club. However, he declared his love for the club and accepted a four-year contract, and said he would stay at Arsenal for life. Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein later claimed the club had turned down two bids of £50 million from Spanish clubs for Henry before the signing of the new contract. Had the transfer materialised, it would have surpassed the then-world record £47 million paid for Zinedine Zidane.
Henry's 2006-07 season was marred by injuries. Although he scored 10 goals in 17 domestic appearances for Arsenal, Henry's season was cut short in February. Having missed games due to hamstring, foot, and back problems, he was deemed fit enough to come on as a late substitute against PSV in a Champions League match, but began limping shortly after coming on. Scans the next day revealed that he would need at least three months to heal from new groin and stomach injuries, missing the rest of the 2006-07 season. Wenger attributed Henry's injuries to a protracted 2005-06 campaign, and reiterated that Henry was keen on staying with the Gunners to rebuild for the 2007-08 season.
On 25 June 2007, in an unexpected turn of events, Henry was transferred to Barcelona for €24 million. He signed a four-year deal for a reported €6.8 (£4.6) million per season. It was revealed that the contract included a release clause of €125 (£84.9) million. Henry cited the departure of Dein and continued uncertainty over Wenger's future as reasons for leaving, and maintained that "I always said that if I ever left Arsenal it would be to play for Barcelona." Despite their captain's departure, Arsenal got off to an impressive start for the 2007-08 campaign, and Henry admitted that his presence in the team might have been more of a hindrance than a help. He stated, "Because of my seniority, the fact that I was captain and my habit of screaming for the ball, they would sometimes give it to me even when I was not in the best position. So in that sense it was good for the team that I moved on." Henry left Arsenal as the club's leading all-time league goalscorer with 174 goals and leading all-time goalscorer in European competitions with 42 goals; in July 2008, Arsenal fans voted him as Arsenal's greatest player ever in Arsenal.com's Gunners' Greatest 50 Players poll.
At Barcelona, Henry was given the number 14 jersey, the same as he had worn at Arsenal. He scored his first goal for his new club on 19 September 2007 in a 3-0 Champions League group stage win over Lyon, and he recorded his first hat-trick for Barça in a Primera División match against Levante ten days later. But with Henry mostly deployed on the wing throughout the season, he was unable to reproduce the goal-scoring form he achieved with Arsenal. He expressed dissatisfaction with the move to Barcelona in the initial year, amidst widespread speculation of a return to the Premier League. In an interview with Garth Crooks on BBC Football Focus, Henry described missing life "back home" and even "the English press." However, Henry concluded his debut season as the club's top scorer with 19 goals in addition to nine league assists, second behind Lionel Messi's ten.
Henry went on to surpass this tally in a more integrated 2008-09 campaign, winning the first trophy of his Barcelona career on 13 May 2009 when Barcelona defeated Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final. Barcelona won the Primera División and UEFA Champions League soon after, completing a treble for the Frenchman, who had combined with Messi and Samuel Eto'o to score 100 goals between them that season. The trio was also the most prolific trio in Spanish league history, scoring 72 goals and surpassing the 66 goals of Real Madrid's Ferenc Puskás, Alfredo Di Stéfano and Luis del Sol of the 1960-61 season (this was later surpassed by Real Madrid trio Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín who scored 89 goals in 2011-12). Later in 2009, Henry helped Barcelona win an unprecedented sextuple, consisting of the aforementioned treble, the Supercopa de España, the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
The following season, the emergence of Pedro meant that Henry only started 15 league games. Before the La Liga season ended, and with a year still left on his contract, club president Joan Laporta stated on 5 May 2010 that Henry "may go away in the summer transfer window if that's what he wants." After Henry returned from the 2010 World Cup, Barcelona confirmed that they had agreed to the sale of Henry to an unnamed club, with the player still to agree terms with the new club.
New York Red Bulls (2010-2014)
In July 2010, Henry signed a multi-year contract with Major League Soccer (MLS) club New York Red Bulls for the 2010 season as its second designated player. He made his full MLS debut on 31 July in a 2-2 draw against Houston Dynamo, assisting both goals to Juan Pablo Ángel. His first MLS goal came on 28 August in a 2-0 victory against San Jose Earthquakes. The Red Bulls eventually topped the MLS Eastern Conference by one point over Columbus Crew before losing 3-2 on aggregate against San Jose Earthquakes in the quarter-finals of the 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs.The next season, the Red Bulls were 10th overall in the league, and bowed out in the Conference semi-finals of the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Return to Arsenal (loan)
After training with Arsenal during the MLS off-season, Henry re-signed for the club on a two-month loan deal on 6 January 2012. This was to provide cover for Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh, who were unavailable due to their participation in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. Henry made his second Arsenal debut as a substitute against Leeds United in the FA Cup third round and scored the only goal. In his last league game on loan, he scored the winning goal in stoppage time in a 2-1 win against Sunderland.
Return to New York Red Bulls
On 17 February 2012, Henry returned to Red Bulls to prepare for the 2012 season. His base salary of $5 million ($5.6 million guaranteed) made him the highest-paid player in the MLS—surpassing David Beckham, who had taken a salary cut for his last year with the Los Angeles Galaxy. In 2013, Henry's base salary dropped to $3.75 million setting him behind Robbie Keane's $4 million base salary. With bonuses, however, Henry remained the highest-paid player with $4.35 million compared to Keane's $4.33 million.
On 31 March 2012, Henry scored his first MLS hat-trick in a 5-2 Red Bulls win over the Montreal Impact. He was named MLS Player of the Month that same month. On 27 October 2013, Henry scored once and provided two assists in the last game of the season against the Chicago Fire at Red Bull Arena to help his team win 5-2 and become champions of the regular season. It was the club's first major trophy in their 17-year history.
On 12 July 2014, Henry provided a goal and three assists in a 4-1 Red Bulls win over the Columbus Crew. With that effort he became the all-time assist leader for the New York Red Bulls with 37, surpassing Amado Guevara and Tab Ramos.
On 1 December 2014, it was announced that Henry had left the Red Bulls after four-and-a-half years at the club. On 16 December, he announced his retirement as a player and stated that he would begin working for Sky Sports as a pundit.
Henry enjoyed a successful career with the France national team, winning the first of his 123 caps in June 1997, when his good form for Monaco was rewarded with a call-up to the Under-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 11 October 1997 in a 2-1 win against South Africa. Jacquet was so impressed with Henry that he took him to the 1998 FIFA 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 as a substitute in the final, where France beat Brazil 3-0, but Marcel Desailly's sending off forced a defensive change instead. In 1998, he was made Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'honneur, France's highest decoration.
Henry was a member of France's UEFA Euro 2000 squad, again scoring three goals in the tournament, including the equaliser against Portugal in the semi-final, and finishing as the country's top scorer. France later won the game in extra time following a converted penalty kick by Zinedine Zidane. France went on to defeat Italy in extra-time in the final, earning Henry his second major international medal. During the tournament, Henry was voted man of the match in three games, including the final against Italy.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup featured a stunning early exit for both Henry and France as the defending champions were eliminated in the group stage after failing to score a goal in all three games. France lost against Senegal in their first group match and Henry was red carded for a dangerous sliding challenge in their next match against Uruguay. In that game, France played to a 0-0 draw, but Henry was forced to miss the final group match due to suspension; France lost 2-0 to Denmark.
Henry returned to form for his country at the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. Despite playing without team stalwarts Zidane and Patrick Vieira, France won, in large part owing to Henry's outstanding play, for which he was named Man of the Match by FIFA's Technical Study Group in three of France's five matches. In the final, he scored the golden goal in extra time to lift the title for the host country after a 1-0 victory over Cameroon. Henry was awarded both the Adidas Golden Ball as the outstanding player of the competition and the Adidas Golden Shoe as the tournament's top goalscorer with four goals.
In UEFA Euro 2004, Henry played in all of France's matches and scored two goals. France beat England in the group stage but lost to the eventual winners Greece 1-0 in the quarter-finals. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup Henry remained as one of the automatic starters in the squad. He played as a lone striker, but despite an indifferent start to the tournament, became one of the top players of the World Cup. He scored three goals, including the winning goal from Zidane's free kick against defending champions Brazil in the quarter-final. However, France subsequently lost to Italy on penalties (5-3) in the final. Henry did not take part in the penalty shoot-out, having been substituted in extra time after his legs had cramped. Henry was one of ten nominees for the Golden Ball award for Player of the Tournament, an award which was ultimately presented to his teammate, Zidane and was named a starting striker on the 2006 FIFPro World XI team.
On 13 October 2007, Henry scored his 41st goal against the Faroe Islands, joining Michel Platini as the country's top goalscorer of all time. Four days later at the Stade de la Beaujoire, he scored a late double against Lithuania, thereby setting a new record as France's top goalscorer. On 3 June 2008, Henry made his 100th appearance for national team in match against Colombia, becoming the sixth French player ever to reach that milestone.
Henry missed the opening game of France's short-lived UEFA Euro 2008 campaign, where they were eliminated in the group stages after being drawn in the same group as Italy, the Netherlands and Romania. He scored France's only goal in the competition in a 4-1 loss to the Netherlands.
The French team struggled during the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and finished second in their group behind Serbia. During the play-offs against the Republic of Ireland, Henry was involved in a controversy in the second leg of the game at the Stade de France on 18 November 2009. With the aggregate score tied at 1-1 and the game in extra time, he used his hand twice to control the ball before delivering a cross to William Gallas who scored the winner. This sparked a barrage of criticism against the Frenchman, while national team coach Raymond Domenech and Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger defended him. The Football Association of Ireland lodged a formal complaint with FIFA, seeking a replay of the game, which FIFA declined. Henry said that he contemplated retiring from international football after the reactions to the incident, but maintained that he was not a "cheat"; hours after FIFA had ruled out a replay, he stated that "the fairest solution would be to replay the game". FIFA President Sepp Blatter described the incident as "blatant unfair play" and announced an inquiry into how such incidents could be avoided in future, and added that the incident would be investigated by the Disciplinary Committee. Blatter also said Henry told him that his family had been threatened in the aftermath of the incident. In January 2010, FIFA announced that there was no legal basis to sanction Henry.
Henry did not feature in the starting line-up for France at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. France drew in their first game against Uruguay, and lost 2-0 in their second against Mexico. The team was thrown into disarray when Nicolas Anelka was expelled from the team, and captain Patrice Evra led a team protest by refusing to train. In the final group game against host-nation South Africa in which Henry came on as a second-half substitute, France lost 2-1 and were eliminated from the tournament. He then announced his retirement from international football, having won 123 caps and scored 51 goals for Les Bleus, thus finishing his international career as France's all-time top scorer, and second most capped player after Lilian Thuram.
Style of play
Although Henry played up front as a striker during his youth, he spent his time at Monaco and Juventus playing on the wing. When Henry joined Arsenal in 1999, Wenger immediately changed this, switching Henry to his childhood position, often pairing him with Dutch veteran Dennis Bergkamp. During the 2004-05 season, Wenger switched Arsenal's formation to 4-5-1. This change forced Henry to adapt again to fit into the Arsenal team, and he played many games as a lone striker. Still, Henry remained Arsenal's main offensive threat, on many occasions conjuring spectacular goals. Wenger said of his fellow Frenchman: "Thierry Henry could take the ball in the middle of the park and score a goal that no one else in the world could score".
One of the reasons cited for Henry's impressive play up front is his ability to calmly score from one-on-ones. According to his father Antoine, Henry picked up his precision shooting from watching his idol Marco van Basten. He was also influenced by Romário, Ronaldo and African star George Weah, a new breed of strikers in the 1990s who would also operate outside the penalty area before running with the ball towards goal. At his physical peak from the late 1990s to the mid 2000s, Henry's ability to dribble past opponents with exceptional pace, skill and composure, meant that he could get in behind defenders regularly enough to score. In 2004, former Arsenal striker Alan Smith commented on Henry: "I have to say I haven't seen a player like him. He's an athlete with great technical ability and a tremendous desire to be the best."
When up front, Henry is occasionally known to move out wide to the left wing position, something which enables him to contribute heavily in assists: between 2002-03 and 2004-05, the striker managed almost 50 assists in total and this was attributed to his unselfish play and creativity. Henry would also drift offside to fool the defence then run back onside before the ball is played and beat the offside trap, although he never provided Arsenal a distinct aerial threat. Given his versatility in being able to operate as both a winger and a striker, the Frenchman is not a prototypical "out-and-out striker", but he has emerged consistently as one of Europe's most prolific strikers. In set pieces, Henry was the first-choice penalty and free kick taker for Arsenal, having scored regularly from those positions.
Awards and honours
- Ligue 1: 1996-97
- Trophée des Champions: 1997
- Premier League (2): 2001-02, 2003-04
- FA Cup (3): 2001-02, 2002-03, 2004-05
- FA Community Shield (2): 2002, 2004
- UEFA Champions League: Runners-up 2005-06
- La Liga (2): 2008-09, 2009-10
- Copa del Rey: 2008-09
- Supercopa de España: 2009
- UEFA Champions League: 2008-09
- UEFA Super Cup: 2009
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2009
- MLS Supporters' Shield: 2013
- MLS Eastern Conference: 2010, 2013
- FIFA World Cup
- UEFA European Football Championship
- FIFA Confederations Cup
- King Hassan II International Cup Tournament
Henry has received many plaudits and awards in his football career. He was runner-up for the 2003 and 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year awards; in those two seasons, he also won back-to-back PFA Players' Player of the Year titles. Henry is the only player ever to have won the FWA Footballer of the Year three times (2003, 2004, 2006), and the French Player of the Year on a record four occasions. Henry was voted into the Premier League Overseas Team of the Decade in the 10 Seasons Awards poll in 2003, and in 2004 he was named by football legend Pelé on the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.
In terms of goal-scoring awards, Henry was the European Golden Boot winner in 2004 and 2005 (sharing it with Villarreal's Diego Forlán in 2005). Henry was also the top goalscorer in the Premier League for a record four seasons (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006). In 2006, he became the first player to score more than 20 goals in the league for five consecutive seasons (2002 to 2006). With 175, Henry is currently fifth in the list of all-time Premier League goalscorers, behind Alan Shearer, Andy Cole, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard. All of his Premier League goals were for Arsenal, giving him the record for most goals in the competition for one club, until it was broken by Rooney in 2016. France's all-time record goalscorer was, in his prime in the mid 2000s, regarded by many coaches, footballers and journalists as one of the best players in the world. In November 2007, he was ranked 33rd on the Association of Football Statisticians' compendium for "Greatest Ever Footballers." Arsenal fans honoured their former player in 2008, declaring Henry the greatest Arsenal player. In two other 2008 surveys, Henry emerged as the favourite Premier League player of all time among 32,000 people surveyed in the Barclays 2008 Global Fan Report. In 2009, Henry was voted the best Premier League player of the 2000s. Arsenal fan and The Who lead singer Roger Daltrey mentions Henry in the tribute song "Highbury Highs", which he performed at Arsenal's last ever game at Highbury on 7 May 2006. On 10 December 2011, Arsenal unveiled a bronze statue of Henry at the Emirates Stadium as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations.
Personal and family life
Henry married English model Nicole Merry, real name Claire, on 5 July 2003. The ceremony was held at Highclere Castle, and on 27 May 2005 the couple celebrated the birth of their first child, Téa. Henry dedicated his first goal following Téa's birth to her by holding his fingers in a "T" shape and kissing them after scoring in a match against Newcastle United. When Henry was still at Arsenal, he also purchased a home in Hampstead, North London. However, shortly after his transfer to Barcelona, it was announced that Henry and his wife would divorce; the decree nisi was granted in September 2007. Their separation concluded in December 2008 when Henry paid Merry a divorce settlement close to her requested sum of £10 million. Henry is now dating Bosnian model Andrea Rajačić.
As a fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Henry is often seen with his friend Tony Parker at games when not playing football. Henry stated in an interview that he admires basketball, as it is similar to football in pace and excitement. Having made regular trips to the NBA Finals in the past, he went to watch Parker and the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals; and in the 2001 NBA Finals, he went to Philadelphia to help with French television coverage of the Finals as well as to watch Allen Iverson, whom he named as one of his favourite players.
Henry is a member of the UNICEF-FIFA squad, where together with other professional footballers he appeared in a series of TV spots seen by hundreds of millions of fans around the world during the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. In these spots, the players promote football as a game that must be played on behalf of children.
Stand Up Speak Up
Having been subjected to racism in the past, Henry is an active spokesperson against racism in football. The most prominent incident of racism against Henry was during a training session with the Spanish national team in 2004, when a Spanish TV crew caught coach Luis Aragonés referring to Henry as "black shit" to José Antonio Reyes, Henry's teammate at Arsenal. The incident caused an uproar in the British media, and there were calls for Aragonés to be sacked. Henry and Nike started the Stand Up Speak Up campaign against racism in football as a result of the incident. Subsequently, in 2007, Time featured him as one of the "Heroes & Pioneers" on the Time list.
Along with 45 other football players, Henry took part in FIFA's "Live for Love United" in 2002. The single was released in tandem with the 2002 FIFA World Cup and its proceeds went towards AIDS research. Henry also supports the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
In 2006, Henry was valued as the ninth-most commercially marketable footballer in the world, and throughout his career he has signed many endorsements and appeared in commercials.
Henry featured in the Renault Clio advertisements in which he popularised the term va-va-voom, meaning "life" or "passion." His romantic interest in the commercial was his then-girlfriend, later his wife (now divorced), Claire Merry. "Va-va-voom" was subsequently added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary.
At the beginning of his career, Henry signed with sportswear giant Nike. In the buildup to the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, Henry featured in Nike's "Secret Tournament" advertisement, directed by Terry Gilliam, along with 24 superstar football players including Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Luís Figo, Francesco Totti, Roberto Carlos and Japanese star Hidetoshi Nakata, with former player Eric Cantona the tournament "referee." In a 2004 advertisement, Henry pits his wits against football stars such as Claude Makélélé, Edgar Davids and Freddie Ljungberg in locations such as his bedroom and living room, which was partly inspired by Henry himself, who revealed that he always has a football nearby, even at home. In tandem with the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Henry also featured in Nike's Joga Bonito campaign, Portuguese for "beautiful game."
Henry's deal with Nike ended after the 2006 FIFA World Cup, when he signed a deal with Reebok to appear in their "I Am What I Am" campaign. As part of Reebok Entertainment's "Framed" series, Henry was the star of a half-hour episode that detailed the making of a commercial about Henry directed by Spanish actress Paz Vega.
In 2011, Henry switched to Puma boots, first wearing the brand in the 2011 MLS All Star game against Manchester United, before announcing a multi-year partnership for Puma to be his performance and lifestyle footwear and apparel sponsor. His first official game with Puma was in the Emirates Cup against former club Arsenal.
In February 2007, Henry was named as one of the three ambassadors of Gillette's "Champions Program," which purported to feature three of the "best-known, most widely respected and successful athletes competing today" and also showcased Roger Federer and Tiger Woods in a series of television commercials. For reasons of recognition, Derek Jeter appears in Henry's place in the advertisements broadcast in North America. In reaction to the handball controversy following the France-Ireland 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier, Gillette faced a boycott and accusations of doctoring French versions of their Champions poster, but subsequently released a statement backing Henry.
Henry was part of Pepsi's "Dare For More" campaign in 2005, alongside the likes of David Beckham and Ronaldinho.
Henry starred in a 2014 advert for Beats headphones with other global football stars including Neymar and Luis Suárez, with the theme of "The Game Before the Game" and the players pre-game ritual of listening to music.
Henry features in EA Sports' FIFA; he appears on the covers of FIFA 2001 to FIFA 2005, in several different editions. He was also a cover star for the Konami Pro Evolution Soccer video game series, and was featured on the covers of Pro Evolution Soccer 4 to Pro Evolution Soccer 6.