In a world filled with bias and hypocrisy, the beautiful game of football being no exception, at times it so happens that the one who should have been hailed as one of the greatest footballers to have ever graced the turf, is overshadowed by the likes of his predecessors and counterparts; most of the times, unfairly. Thierry Henry is not just a name- it’s the synonym of greatness which goes way beyond the shackles of comparison. Those who’ve seen the man play in his prime can never forget the sight of him tearing down the field, making the opposition dance to his tunes, twisting and turning past his markers only to drive home a spiteful strike and the enchanted legions of his loyalists rising in awe of their demigod’s heroics.
Thierry Henry is a French footballer who currently plays for the New York Red Bulls in the United States. He was brought up in a modest French suburb of Les Ulis in Paris (born on 17thAugust 1977). Henry’s story is not a typical one with a fairytale pinch. Unlike other greats who had a penchant for football right from the beginning, Henry was someone who wasn’t that drawn to the game as a kid. However, there was something special in his game which attracted attention from several local clubs who left no stone unturned in securing the signature of the boy they perceived to be the next big thing in football. Thierry Henry had a less-than-impressive beginning as a professional footballer. He was played in a position where he wasn’t very comfortable at playing to his potential and it was only under Arsene Wenger at English giants Arsenal that he blossomed, and how!
After being transferred from Juventus to Arsenal in 1999, he led a new era in the club’s history and went on to become a world-class footballer under the guidance of his manager. Wenger was quick to recognize the fact that playing on the flank was not the best position for Thierry to ply his trade on and promoted him up front and transformed him into an out and out striker. Once this was done, there was no turning back. Henry became a goal-scoring machine and every defender’s worst nightmare, raising the bar and changing the face of Arsenal football club in the process. In his 8 years with the Gunners, Henry broke several records, the most noteworthy being scoring the most number of goals in the club’s history, netting 227 times during his time with the London club. After he engraved his name on the heart of every gooner, he set out to enrapture in Spain where inspite of being played out-of-position at length, Henry managed to captivate the Catalans and bring home the La Liga and the Champions league glory.
Unlike a host of footballing greats, who’re only known to have weaved their magic while playing either for their club or country, Henry has the bragging rights of being equally impressive on both fronts. He not only holds the record for scoring the most number of goals for his club side Arsenal, but also being the top scorer for his motherland France. His career as a whole has a lot to offer in terms of grit, passion and character to inspiring, budding footballers and fans alike. In his illustrious career, Henry was nominated for FIFA World Player of the Year, the ultimate recognition for any footballer in the world, twice, and was named the PFA’s Player of the Year twice. He also bagged top honours when it came to FWA’s Player of the Year thrice. Henry has been a World Cup winner, Euro cup winner and a Champions League winner, a feat only a few can boast about.
Apart from being an ace footballer, Henry is a humble man who’s a fighter and who never gives in to any challenge that comes between him and success. Inspite of being plagued with injuries at the peak of his game, the man always came back stronger and confined his feet to the ground. It’s difficult to imagine someone, who was regarded as the most feared striker of his time, could carry the burden of expectations of his club and country with such grace and humility. Henry has always put his popularity and influence to good use. He has been one of the leading voices to raise a pitch against racism in football, which is a massive threat to the game’s future and has been a part of several social programs aimed at improving lives in Africa and other abject and impoverished territories.
“Thierry Henry is more than a brand, it’s a way of life”. He is a perfect idol for those who wish to accomplish all they want, inspite of all odds with a smile on their face. Thierry Henry inspired me to keep fighting – “Nothing that’s worth comes easy”- and you got to keep on persevering right till the end. Whether it’s football, any other sport, academics or any other field, with the right attitude and the perfect balance of determination and devotion, nothing is impossible. Thierry Henry in this regard, is more than just another luminary who’s mesmerized the globe with his breathtaking skills on the football pitch. For me, he’s more than an inspiration. He’s that conjurer who through his magical spirit and infectious aura, helped me and millions of others find our voices, and he is right up there with the likes of the Peles, the Maradonas and the Messis of the world.