x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Thierry Henry: a Frenchman loose in New York

The former Arsenal and Barcelona forward talks to The National following his decision to move to Major League Soccer.

Thierry Henry, the French striker who has won league titles with Arsenal and Barcelona in England and Spain respectively, said he felt it was the right time to move to the MLS.
Thierry Henry, the French striker who has won league titles with Arsenal and Barcelona in England and Spain respectively, said he felt it was the right time to move to the MLS.

The former Arsenal and Barcelona forward talks to The National following his decision to move to Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls. Why play in America now? Because I thought it was the right time for me to make this step. I was ready to do it a year ago, but for World Cup reasons I didn't want to come before, because I didn't want to be coming back and forth. I stayed with the national team to be 100 per cent committed. I just love [New York], and I love this club and I wanted to represent New York, and I felt like it was the right time for me to be here.

How would you compare the level of competition in the Premier League versus the MLS? It's hard to compare the two. I see it as more of me coming into my new team and trying to compete with my new team. It doesn't matter where you are. I'm not here trying to compare the leagues. I just came here trying to win and help the team.

What was it like when you went home to France after the World Cup? I just arrived and had a meeting with the [French] president (Nicolas Sarkozy), and I went home. Was Sarkozy angry? No, no. We had a normal talk, a normal chat. It was all good. Will the vuvuzelas come to MLS? I hope not. You can never say never, but don't get me wrong, nothing against it, but it wasn't always nice to hear when you're at the stadium. Let's hope not.

Were you supporting Spain to win the World Cup final against Holland? Yes, I was. I loved it. I had eight ex-teammates playing. So if there was a team I was cheering for, it would have been Spain. I was actually cheering for them. I was very happy, because I think that was a team that was trying to play football. I think they deserved to win.

You've probably heard enough about the handball versus Ireland, but could they have replayed that match ? was that a possibility? Yes, you could. That's what I said. I said the game should have been replayed. They can make that decision. You know the [2001] FA Cup final? Stephane Henchoz, of Liverpool, dived on the line and [hit] the ball over with his hand. The referee didn't see it, we didn't replay the game. They lifted the cup right in front of me. I went home, and nobody cried for me. I'm just saying. The Irish got a penalty against Georgia in qualification when it was never a penalty. I didn't see you guys crying for Georgia. That's the game. The ref made a mistake.

Let's face it: I wasn't proud of it. But it was a bad reaction. I did apologise for it. I said the game should be replayed. But I couldn't do more than that. Did you see the goal that [Brazil's] Luis Fabiano scored against Ivory Coast at the World Cup? That was a double handball. One, two, goal. What I'm saying is that the ref didn't see it, but I didn't see anyone killing Luis Fabiano.

Where do you stand on the introduction of goal-line technology? I think we need to put in video replay. I think when the call is an important call for the game, how long will it take to watch the replay? Ten seconds? When you look at it, when there is a controversial goal or a controversial offside or that kind of thing, you lose more time arguing than if you would have showed the replay. Again, I'll say it: I do apologise to all the Irish fans. But I've lost games like this, and I've won one game like this.

You are friends with NBA star Steve Nash. Have you spoken? How is his soccer game? I've spoken to Steve. I speak with him quite often. He can play football - or you say "soccer" here. He's actually a good player. Could he play for the Red Bulls as a bench player? I don't know, because playing a professional game, it's another story. Who's a better passer? Steve Nash or Tony Parker? Oh, man. Two friends. I can't choose between two friends.

sports@thenational.ae