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Indian football should look to the rise of Iceland and Costa Rica-Henry

The Arsenal legend feels Zidane is on the right path while he counts Messi and Ronaldo as abnormal footballers of this era..


1998 France World Cup winning footballer Thierry Henry arrived in Kolkata to witness the India Super League clash between Mumbai City FC and hosts Atletico de Kolkata. The Arsenal legend landed at the Netaji Subhash International Airport at 8:20 am. He was immediately rushed to the Mumbai City FC team hotel. The French footballer was brought out through the cargo gate at the airport in order to avoid the fans and media waiting to have a glimpse of him.

The Frenchman met the MCFC players at the team hotel . Mumbai later posted a photograph of their marquee footballer Diego Forlan with Henry on their twitter handle. Earlier the Uruguayan had wished Henry on his to trip to Kolkata to witness their match against Atletico de Kolkata.

In the evening Henry attended a talk-show with Robin Singh at a city mall in South Kolkata for his sponsor brand. Thierry Henry revealed a lot of things about France, Arsenal, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Indian football.

Henry had a lot of praise for the ISl as he said, “The league is very condensed they have a lot of back to back games, but they are delivering some good football. A lot of the guys who have played here have told me the league is on a high level and I am witnessing that myself. Freddie (Ljungberg) and (Nicolas) Anelka have told me about the difficult level of the ISL."

Speaking on his first visit to India, Henry said Indian football should look to the rise of countries like Iceland and Costa Rica. “Football is more passionate nowadays in India. I know it is a cricket crazy country. But it is becoming popular as more international matches are shown live. Iceland and Costa Rica are proof that hard work pays. You need to start early and not at an age when you are becoming professional,” feels Henry.

Henry, who was part of the ‘Invincible’ squad under Arsene Wenger also labelled Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as class acts and abnormal footballers.“They are just abnormal. I’ve never seen players like them in the past and I am sure you’ve never seen before. They score what 50 goals to 60 goals, 90 goals a season. It is irrelevant asking if defenders before would have stopped them and not fair on defenders of their time. We will never know that.”

For the Ballon D’Or final four this season Henry shortlisted the La Liga contingent Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Arsenal’s all-time top scorer said, “One of Bale, Leo, Ronaldo and Griezmann could win the Ballon D’Or. I have played with Leo so you know how I would feel if he wins. It is difficult to see anyone coming between him and Ronaldo.”

Talking about his French compatriot Paul Pogba’s inconsistent start after his Manchester United return Henry said, “Jose Mourinho is still looking to adjust with Manchester United as he is trying out all the players to set up a settled squad. When I came (to the Premier League), I wasn’t playing well. I have faith in Pogba. Nowadays people want things to happen very fast. He needs time to adapt. You have to give him that time.”

Henry was instrumental in Arsenal regaining the Premier League title in the 2003-04 season without losing a match. The feat earned Arsene Wenger’s side the tag of ‘Invincibles’. Asked whether any team can emulate that feat, the lethal striker who is now the assistant coach to Roberto Martinez in the Belgium national team said, “It is possible to repeat the Invincibles’ feat of winning the League by remaining unbeaten. But we did it first,” the 39-year old smiled and said.

The French international who has scored 50 career goals for Les Bleus feels his 1998 World Cup winning teammate and captain Zinedine Zidane is on the right track as manager of Real Madrid. “Definitely Zizou is on the right path. Winning the Champions League first up is great,” Henry said. Asked about his former teammate’s head butt in the 2006 World Cup Final against Italy, Henry was straight forward in saying, “We don’t feel Zizou’s head butt broke our concentration as we played as an unit.”

Asked to compare the Premier League’s two most successful managers – Sir Alex Fergusson and Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal striker commented, “Arsene changed the philosophy of how football is to be played and Ferguson did what he set out to, knock Liverpool off their perch.”

Speaking about his time in football, Henry expectedly had kind words for the man who turned him into one of the best strikers of his era. "I was fortunate to have played under Arsene Wenger," he signed off. The 39-year-old also elaborated on what drove him to be the best player he could be, saying satisfaction was something he never could come to terms with as far his performances on the field were concerned.

Henry has also written a precious message on a shirt addressed to former Indian cricketer and his famous admirer Sunil Gavaskar before leaving the stadium. He is known to be a big Arsenal fan and was a huge follower of Henry's game during his prime in the Premier League where he guided Arsenal to the championship remaining unbeaten.

Photo © ISL Media


Report by Khel Now Correspondent Kushankur Rony Rakshit. Sports passionate and content writer. He is big football and cricket fan.



Published: Wed Oct 26, 2016 09:32 AM IST

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