After chasing Thierry Henry’s tail for nearly a year now, the NY Red Bulls seek to sign the Frenchman within the coming weeks. Henry once looked like the ideal candidate to fill a designated player slot in New York but I’m afraid this is no longer the case. The issue lies in a number of things that seemingly just have not gone in favor for Henry.
As a brief background, Henry has been expressing his interest in playing in the States and his appreciation for New York City for a few years now. Once Henry transferred to FC Barcelona in 2007, many began to speculate that the Catalan club was his last pitstop before the Big Apple.He is also one of the most decorated French players of all-time. Having had some of the most dynamic partnerships on the field with legends like Zinedine Zidane and Dennis Bergkamp, Henry has been no stranger to success. As a result, his undisputed legacy seemed to have been locked as a legend of the game… That is until things began to turn sour.
Barcelona seemed to have always been just a bit too crowded for a player of his age. With players like Messi and Eto’o, Henry struggled to get a lot of playing time there. That was the first of several hinderings to a smooth end to Henry’s career.
Then came the big one: the infamous handball against Ireland in the second leg of the 2010 World Cup Qualifier playoff. The controversy was huge. The Football Association of Ireland launched a formal complaint to FIFA seeking to replay the game. Although the complaint was rejected, the damage to Henry’s legacy was done. Nasty headlines were published across the world describing Henry as a “cheat” and death threats soon came after. Even the President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, described the move as “blatant unfair play.” The whole thing got blown out of proportion. Henry never meant to “cheat.” It was clearly a natural reflex to handle the ball and the play was missed by the referee. Henry helped France qualify for the World Cup but never did he try to cheat his way in. That’s just not him. Regardless, Henry’s reputation was no longer the same.
Seven months later, karma came around and slapped the French team in the face. The French national team fell into shambles at the 2010 World Cup after head coach Raymond Domenech dismissed starting forward Nicolas Anelka from the team and the rest of the team threatened to boycott the rest of the tournament. The team finished the tournament with 0 wins, 1 tie, and 2 losses. To top it off, France had themselves further embarrassed after Domenech refused to shake the host country’s head coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, after their 2-1 loss to South Africa. Bottomline, even though Henry was in the background of all of these events, he was still a part of it all.
Assuming the deal goes through, Henry will no longer be bringing the excitement to New York City that once seemed so appealing about him. Instead, Henry will look to use MLS as an escape from everything that he has experienced in the past year or so. And unfortunately most Red Bull fans aren’t as keen on him as they once were. Although he still is Thierry Henry, his reputation has been tarnished and excitement levels in New York City have fallen. With Juan Pablo Angel slowly coming back into form, some people don’t even want Henry to come.
Personally, I welcome Henry with open arms as I don’t blame his for anything that has happened. He obviouslly will not have the same effect on the MLS as David Beckham, but he will definitely bring in a little bit more quality to the league. And at the very least, we can still expect him to sell a few shirts and score some goals.