Arsenal legend Thierry Henry prepares for an emotional return to North London as New York Red Bulls compete in this weekend’s Emirates Cup. In the lead-up to Sunday's prestigious friendly with his former club, the striker talks all things Arsenal, football in the States and his plans for the future...
First of all, Thierry, how does it feel to be back at Arsenal?
It’s emotional coming back home for me. Everybody knows the love I have for the club. It’s going to be a weird one. I came back with Barca but that was a competitive game. On Sunday, it’s going to be a friendly one. When I come back here I always get goosebumps. Hopefully we’re going to have a good game. It’s going to be difficult but we will try our best.
Do you feel you are representing the MLS in matches like these?
I think it’s the first time that an MLS team has come here to play a European team so we are representing the MLS but we also know it’s going to be a difficult game.
Are you still in contact with your old manager, Arsene Wenger?
Yeah, I speak to the boss quite often. Does he ever ask my advice? The boss is the boss. I don’t cross that line with him.
You said you’d never come back to play football here but have you considered management? Do you have the dream of following Arsene?
I would love to be a part of the management team here one day, but, let’s put it this way, I know some people have had a go at Arsene recently and you know that one day he will go but, like [Manchester United manager] Sir Alex Ferguson, you don’t want to go after him. The boss has changed the face of the club. For me, I would keep him for life. I know he’s had a bit of stick recently, but hopefully they can change that this year.
Arsenal have not won a trophy since you left in 2007. Why do you think that is?
They’re small things. They’ve been so close so many times. There is the quality in this team to do it but you need to ask the boss. He’s the one who should answer these questions. Yeah, I’m an Arsenal fan and I want to see them winning, I’m suffering because we haven’t won anything for a long time, but you have to stick with the guys even when they’re not doing well. Hopefully they can do it this year.
What are your thoughts on the club’s new striker, Gervinho?
He’s a good player, I’ve known him for a very long time. He’s skilful, versatile and, one on one, he will kill a lot of defenders. He has everything to succeed at this club. He is what I would call an Arsenal player. The fans will be pleased, he is the type of player who can light up the stadium.
What is the difference between playing for teams in Europe and playing for New York Red Bulls?
I can’t tell you the difference, all I can say is that I love it! Sometimes you’re not on the front page or the back page but after all the stuff I’ve had in Europe that doesn’t bother me. On the west coast and the east coast there are more foreign players arriving so they are recognised more but what a great thing not to be on the back page of the paper anymore. Trust me!
You’ve seen the MLS at close quarters now, do you think more top European players will choose to go to the States in the future?
That can only happen if they stop the designated player rule and the salary capping. If the rules are changed to make it more like European football then, yes, I can see it happening.
There’s been a lot written about Juan Agudelo. You see him every day in training. How highly do you rate him?
We are trying to keep his feet on the ground. It’s not easy. In the US, especially, there is a lot of pressure on him. He’s a young American player coming through. He’s only 18 and has not played a lot of games but he’s a good kid. We’re trying to help him develop but the guy is talented. He can dribble past people, he’s powerful, he’s fast and he can finish. Hopefully over this weekend you will see the type of talent that he is.
- Head to the Emirates Cup event page
- Find out more about the teams involved
- Read an interview with Red Bulls defender Tim Ream
- Visit New York Red Bulls' official site
- Check out Arsenal's official site