Thierry Henry Retires, Joins Sky Sports: Latest Details, Comments, ReactionDecember 16, 2014
Thierry Henry's legendary career has reached its official conclusion.
The 37-year-old striker—arguably the greatest player to have ever worn the Arsenal shirt—announced his retirement Tuesday. Sky Sports confirmed and announced that Henry will join the network in 2015:
In an interview discussing his new role, the Frenchman described this career move as a way to "give back to the game."
Henry, who had previously done the occasional bit of work for Sky Sports, released the following statement on his official Facebook page:
After 20 years in the game I have decided to retire from professional football. 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.
It is now time for a different career path and I am pleased to say that I will be returning to London and joining Sky Sports. I will hopefully share some of the insights, observations and experiences I have learnt over the years with you guys.
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.
See you on the other side...
Henry's legacy will always have its roots on Arsenal turf. The statue outside Emirates Stadium that acknowledges his legend is unmissable.
However, his influence stretches far beyond north London. Save for a short loan return with the Gunners, Henry spent his last five seasons with the New York Red Bulls. The club confirmed on Dec. 1 that he would leave the club, which most assumed was a prelude to his retirement:
Although the Red Bulls never managed to win the MLS Cup during Henry's spell, nobody will dispute the impact he made on both New York and MLS as a whole. He scored 51 goals and assisted another 42 in 122 appearances and also served as a great ambassador for the league.
Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl praised Henry's attitude toward MLS and the fact that he never viewed the league as beneath him:
Jeff Carlisle of ESPN.com believes Henry helped raise the profile of the league:
To almost every fan outside the United States, though, Henry will be most remembered for his days with the French national team at international level and Arsenal and Barcelona at club level.
Between the controversial handball against Ireland in World Cup qualification and France's disastrous 2010 World Cup, his time with France reached a rather ignominious end. However, he had previously helped Les Bleus win the 1998 World Cup on home soil and then the 2000 European Football Championship. His 51 goals are the most in the history of the national team.
Henry also enjoyed a wildly successful club career, winning two league titles apiece with Arsenal and Barcelona as well as a Champions League crown with the Catalans.
The Frenchman proved to be the best £11 million Arsene Wenger ever spent, scoring 176 goals in 258 Premier League appearances. He won the Premier League's Golden Boot in 2001/02 and then three years running between 2003 and 2006.
Henry was also a key piece in the Gunners' "Invincibles" team of 2003/04—the second English team to finish a league season unbeaten. At his best, his speed, power, flair and deft touch made him an unstoppable force.
"When I first put him at centre-forward, he said, 'Look I cannot score goals,'" Wenger said of Henry during a press conference in July 2014. "For someone who cannot score goals he has done quite well! He is a legend at the club, and if you ask every Arsenal fan, 'Who is the [key] player of Arsenal?' they will say Thierry Henry."
Opta's David Wall sums up Henry's astounding achievements:
Arsenal sold Henry to Barcelona in 2007 for £16.1 million, which in part signaled a sea change for the Gunners.
While Henry did enjoy two-and-a-half successful seasons with Barcelona, he'll always be synonymous with Highbury and those free-flowing, title-winning Arsenal squads.
In retirement, Henry is expected to gravitate toward north London once again, although that may be delayed by his commitment to Sky Sports.
Wenger revealed he'd welcome Henry to his coaching staff as long as the star was truly committed to his new role, per The Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson:
It's not impossible—I welcome people who have played for us to come back, but they need to do something. Not an honorary job. It has to be a job available and one that you get up in the morning and you have to do something.
He has to learn his job first. I have seen so many people who have the qualities to be a manager but not survive their first job because they are not ready. When you are a football player, you think it's so simple to be a manager. When you are a manager, you think it's so complicated suddenly and, if you’re not prepared for that, you cannot survive.
Punditry will be Henry's immediate future. He worked with the BBC during the 2014 World Cup coverage, bringing an authoritative voice and nuanced opinions.
Football fans will now get to enjoy the legendary Frenchman's insights under the Sky Sports banner, but it would be no surprise if Arsenal were to benefit from his wisdom again in the not-too-distant future.