Amid retirement talk, Petke, Wenger say Henry still has it


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When Red Bull Head of Global Football Gerard Houllier announced yesterday that he believed that New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry was leaning towards retirement, many were left surprised by the news.

Count Henry himself, who has stated he is undecided on retirement throughout this season, among those that were caught off guard by Houllier’s declaration.

“Oh, he said that?” Henry said after the Red Bulls 1-0 win over his former club, Arsenal. “There is nothing else to say. That is what I said. We’ll talk more at the end of the season.”

If the 36-year-old is indeed leaning towards retirement, he would be going out with plenty left in the tank. Henry has enjoyed a spectacular season from a playmaking perspective, having already picked up ten assists, two fewer than his MLS career high of 12 in 2012.

Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke was one of those who sung Henry’s praises after the Red Bulls defeat of Arsenal.

“Thierry is Thierry, you know?” Petke said. “He opens up so much space for everybody. His first step, I mean he’s playing against younger players, big time players, Arsenal players and his first step is bringing him ahead of them.

“He still has it,” Petke continued. “His vision, unbelievable. His ability to create space and get open. All the things are no secret. I’m just repeating what everybody in soccer already knows. He’s one of the best players to ever play and he still has it.”

Petke wasn’t the only one to point out Henry’s current ability, as his Arsenal counterparts also expressed their admiration of Henry’s game.

“Thierry can be dangerous from everywhere,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “He understands very quickly what he can take advantage from. He was sharp today as well in the one-on-ones and you could see why he was a great player when he played in the midfield. His passing was excellent and his vision as well. You could see that he can play everywhere.”

“I grew up supporting the club, watching him score week in and week out,” said Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere. “He’s the club record goalscorer. He’s a special player and you can tell today that, even though he may have lost a little bit of pace, he still has the skill to open up defenses.”

Henry’s performance against Arsenal was typical, with the Frenchman providing the corner that opened the sequence for Bradley Wright-Phillips’ eventual winner. The Frenchman’s display against one of the world’s top teams was enough to show Petke that Henry still has the ability to play at any level.

“Personally, absolutely,” said Petke when asked if Henry could still contribute to the world’s top teams. “Do I think he can play for 90 minutes in the Premier League every week? I’m sure he would agree, probably not, but he still is 100 percent at that level mentally and physically for large chunks of games.”

However, with all talks of other teams aside, Henry’s focus remains on MLS, which is something Wenger believes could be enough to lead the Red Bulls to glory this season.

“You could see that everybody was focused and ready for a fight,” Wenger said. “If they can maintain that kind of commitment and solidarity, and if they can keep Thierry Henry in this form, I think they have a good chance to come back in a strong position in MLS.”

What did you think of Henry’s performance against Arsenal? Do you agree with Petke’s assessment that Henry could still contribute to top teams?

Share your thoughts below.

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12 Responses to Amid retirement talk, Petke, Wenger say Henry still has it

  1. MLS to el paso tx says:

    red bull should have or go for chicharrito or drogba but ronaldinho would be amazing for red bull, and it would create a positive sign on the academy.
    I also don’t think red bull wants to waste big money on Dps, since they love their youth movement n weird coach.
    however red bull need to become new jersey red bullS or represent new jersey more than nyc. I know about frisco, brideview, chester but nj is way different.
    how about new jersey metros, garden state red bulls, not red bull.
    imagine having atlanta coca-cola, miami gatorade
    will mls step in and make them rebrand or sell.
    will cosmos smell the chance n become red bull friend.

    • slowleftarm says:

      As always – total nonsense. If you think rbny needs ronaldinho you haven’t watched them much.

      • NASL TO EL PASO TX says:

        So what about Hollands sneijder or the mexican sensation chicharito. Drogba loves Chelsea and Xavi ain’t coming to red bull. Be open buddy:)

        • Fast Eddie says:

          Seriously NASL, do you think there is any chance that buddy will ever be open?

          • slowleftarm says:

            What does this even mean? Will I be open to my club signing some over the hill former star who doesn’t address the weak, error prone defense that’s responsible for their poor season so far? Not really. Drogba and Chicarito I’m not interested in for the same reason. And Drogba just signed for Chelsea so that’s obviously not happening anyway. Same thing with Xavi. Sneijder is an excellent player and I would be in favor of RBNY signing him though again this doesn’t help defensively.

            The rest of these comments make no sense, including the idea that it somehow is beneficial for RBNY to artificially limit itself to representing New Jersey instead of the NY metro area.

  2. AMP says:

    I think it would be silly to disagree. I am no fan of Arsenal, France, or NYRB, but I think that Henry is a soccer genius. You don’t lose your brilliant mind at 36. You lose something physically, mos def, but Henry was a freak of nature.

  3. toiletduck says:

    He still has hands, so he’s as useful as ever.

    • wood chip Zip says:

      “Thierry can be dangerous from everywhere,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “He understands very quickly what he can take advantage from.

      Including his hands. Who knew soccer players could use their hands?

  4. Tim F. says:

    One of the best ever.

    • If you had the luck of the Irish says:

      at using his hands

    • slowleftarm says:

      If you could point out one player who’s ever been involved in a goal like that and then held his hand up and told the official to disallow the goal, your point would be more valid.