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Video: Thierry Henry plays football in India for the first time

12.65K   //    28 Oct 2016, 15:46 IST
Thierry Henry Arsenal Football Puma NSCI India Mumbai Kolkata
Thierry Henry played football with stars and kids alike at the NSCI Indoor Stadium in Mumbai

Global Sportswear giants, PUMA decided that it was time for Indian football fans to witness something historic. They welcomed Frenchman and Arsenal’s all-time record goal scorer, Thierry Henry to Mumbai at the NSCI stadium on Wednesday.

Prior to arriving in Mumbai, Henry was in the city of Joy, Kolkata where he saw the Indian Super League match between Atletico De Kolkata and Mumbai City FC which the visitors won courtesy a poacher’s goal from Diego Forlan.

“I was happy to meet some of the players that I have played against like Diego Forlan. I also had the chance to meet the owner of the league, Nita Ambani. She is an amazing woman. What she’s doing right now for not only football but for sports in India is amazing”, said Henry.

“India has amazing football talent at the grassroots”

The Frenchman visited Mumbai to train some talented players from Arsenal Soccer School and Reliance Foundation Young Champs. It also gave his diehard fans an opportunity to see him play the game towards which his contribution has been intangible.

Speaking at the event, an excited Henry believes things can only get better for Indian football.

“India has amazing football talent at the grass root level that needs to be nurtured and given a chance to grow. It has been a fascinating experience for me to witness the growing interest for football in India”, he said.

Here’s the legendary forward training kids from the Arsenal Soccer School:

The former Barcelona striker also made sure to taste some local Indian food. Henry is of Antillean heritage and said he was always keen on trying Indian food.

“Having West Indian roots, the spice in the Indian food didn’t make me uncomfortable at all. I enjoyed it”, he stated.

Henry praises Wenger

Thousands of fans queued up to see the forward live in action. After he trained the talented kids, Henry played a 5 a side football match against team Faster which consisted of ISL players like Dhanachandra Singh, Shankar Sampingiraj, cricketer Aditya Tare and Bollywood actors - Harshvardhan Kapoor and Dino Morea.

The crowd gave him a ferocious welcome. Something, he is used to wherever he goes. Here’s a look:

Talking to the media prior to the match, Henry heaped praise on his former manager, Arsene Wenger. The striker played 259 games under Wenger, who recently celebrated his 20th year as coach of the Gunners.

“What the boss (Wenger) did is outstanding. The way of playing. When you mention Arsenal, you straight away think about playing football on the ground, repeating passes and good football. He changes the way the club functioned. It will be great for him if he can win the title in this season”, he said.

Thierry Henry Arsene Wenger Arsenal Puma
Thierry Henry hopes Arsene Wenger can win the Premier League in his historic 20th year in charge of Arsenal

Henry picks his title favourites

The 39-year-old revealed that he has been keeping a close eye on his former club and believes they are primed for a title challenge.

“Right now there are 5 teams. They’re all in it. It’s a difficult one to call. Manchester City looked good in the first six games, now they’re struggling a bit. Arsenal didn’t look good initially, now they look okay.”

“Chelsea are starting to understand Conte’s system. Liverpool has been consistent – winning at Arsenal, Chelsea, getting a draw at Tottenham. It’s going to be a tricky one,” he concluded.

Mumbai marked the final leg of Thierry Henry’s maiden 2-day visit to India, something which he, and the fans will remember for a long time.

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