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Thierry Henry In ‘Wrong Camp’ For World Cup Semi” – France

Posted by on July 10th, 2018

 

 

When France line up for their World Cup
semi-final French great Thierry Henry will
stare back at them from the Belgium bench
and Les Bleus can’t stop talking about it.
Henry, who was part of the France squad that
won the 1998 World Cup on home soil, has
been assistant manager to Belgium boss
Roberto Martinez since 2016 and has helped
guide the Red Devils to the last four of a
World Cup for just the second time.
The irony that a player who scored 51 goals in
123 international appearances and helped
France become world and European
champions is now plotting to stop them
reaching the final in Russia is not lost on the
current French team.
“It will be bizarre to have him up against us,”
forward Olivier Giroud said. “He is a living
legend of French football.
“He has given so much to the France team
and we have got a lot of respect for what he
has done.”
“But of course I would be proud to show ‘Titi’
that he has chosen the wrong camp,” Giroud
added, using Henry’s French nickname.
After spending most of his career at Premier
League club Arsenal and putting down roots in
England, 40-year-old Henry has had little
involvement in French football despite being
one of the most popular players that France
has ever produced.
French Football Federation president Noel Le
Graet told AFP pointedly that “we’ve rather
lost sight of him and he has little contact with
the federation”.
“Life can be like that sometimes. He has been
in England a long time and personally I have
very little contact with him,” Le Graet said.
He said Henry had made Belgium into “a team
that likes to attack”.
“The strikers go to him, they respect him,” he
said.
Henry had little previous coaching experience
and the president said he had “probably
chosen the right solution” by taking the job of
an assistant.
He compared Henry’s early steps in coaching
to those followed by Zinedine Zidane at Real
Madrid before he took the top job and went
on to win three Champions League titles in a
row.
“It is definitely better to start as assistant in a
national team, even if he was hoping it would
be in Arsenal’s staff,” Le Graet said. “There is
no doubt that he has a career in coaching
ahead of him.”
Henry, now sporting a thick beard, is happy to
remain in the background as Martinez, a
former manager of English clubs Wigan and
Everton, does the talking to the media.
He joined the Belgium setup in 2016 just after
Martinez was appointed and reportedly set to
work immediately with forwards Romelu
Lukaku and Michy Batshuayi.
Though a very different player from the
elegant Frenchman, the powerfully built
Lukaku showed a touch of Henry in his
intelligent dummy that allowed the ball to run
through to Nacer Chadli to score Belgium’s
winner in the thrilling come-from-behind 3-2
win over Japan in the last 16.
Jean-Marie Pfaff, the Belgium goalkeeper
when they last reached the World Cup semi-
finals in 1986, told AFP’s German sports
agency SID that Henry would be “France’s
main opponent” in the semi-final.
“He plays an extremely important role for
Martinez,” Pfaff said. “Martinez regularly asks
him for advice and he listens to it. I think that
Thierry Henry can be credited with some of
the tactical ploys.”
Giroud, who like Henry was an Arsenal
forward until he joined Chelsea last year,
wishes Henry were on the French staff.
“Of course I wish he was with us and was
giving advice to me and the other strikers.
But we can’t be envious. It is not something
that shocks me because it is a normal move
at this stage in his career.”
France defender Lucas Hernandez said he
was sure Henry would be happy if France
beat his employers on Wednesday.
“He’ll be happy if we win because above all
else he is a Frenchman,” the 22-year-old left-
back said.


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