Deschamps hints at possible final game for Henry
PARIS (AP) — France coach Didier Deschamps has hinted that he could give Thierry Henry a final game as a “tribute” to his playing career.
The 37-year-old Henry is contemplating his future after ending his career with the New York Red Bulls, and he has been linked to a potential coaching role at Arsenal under his former coach Arsene Wenger.
Henry is France’s record scorer with 51 goals but has not played since his making his 123rd international appearance against South Africa, during France’s disappointing 2010 World Cup campaign.
Sections of the French media have urged for Henry to be given a farewell send-off.
“Everyone has their own ideas. Some people will consider it to be a good idea, others will consider it a bad idea,” Deschamps said Thursday on RTL radio. “Thierry Henry deserves a tribute. I won’t say right now how it will happen. I’m going to take my time because it merits reflection. I’m going to discuss it with my (French Football Federation) president and we’ll let you know.”
France’s next match is against Denmark at Stade de France on March 29, with a match reportedly scheduled against Brazil three days earlier.
France’s form has picked up since Deschamps took charge two years ago and the team reached the World Cup quarterfinals earlier this year. With France hosting the next European Championship in 2016, it has only friendlies up until then.
Given this, it could be delicate to give Henry a game, even as a substitute, when other players are fighting for a spot in a largely settled team.
“Even if it’s just a friendly match, we’re preparing for the Euro and that’s the reality,” Deschamps said. “Thierry Henry has (already) worn this jersey and stopped his international career a few years ago. There are many possible ways to pay tribute to him.”
Deschamps was France’s captain when it won the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship two years later, playing alongside Henry in both campaigns.
“Thierry’s an immense player who has left his mark on the history of the French team,” Deschamps said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for what he’s achieved and we were teammates, too. He was very young when he started with the France team and I was lucky enough to play one season with him for Juventus. A big ‘Well done.’”
Deschamps recalled Henry’s coolness under pressure.
“I remember when he made his (France) debut at the age of 18, along with David Trezeguet. They were part of our fabulous adventure when we won the World Cup in ’98,” Deschamps said. “When they had to take penalties against Italy in the quarterfinals it was no problem, even though there was a weight and a responsibility on their shoulders. It shaped the careers they would go on to have.”