Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"I always say that one day I can play over [in the U.S.]. I would love to."

These are the words of the great Thierry Henry, as reported in today's NYTimes. More from the article:
“I think everybody knows I love America,” Henry said late last week in a telephone interview from Clairefontaine, France, where he was training with the national team for qualifying matches for the 2008 European Championship. The French earned a 6-0 victory over the Faroe Islands on Saturday, when Henry tied Michel Platini’s record with his 41st goal for France. They play today against Lithuania.
“I always say that one day I can play over there,” Henry said. “I would love to. But it’s still early. Don’t get me wrong, I just love the U.S. I don’t know why. I love the way you live. I love American sports. For me, it’s a dream to go to training and then see a game of football, basketball, whatever game. For me, New York is the best city in the world.”
Henry is far from anonymous in the United States. He was surrounded by fans last season at Madison Square Garden when he attended a game between the
Knicks and San Antonio, and watched his friend Tony Parker of the Spurs. (He was the best man at Parker’s wedding to the actress Eva Longoria in July.) Now a couple of companies are seeking to exploit Henry’s smart and balanced personality and introduce him to a wider American audience.
Henry is now appearing with
Roger Federer and Tiger Woods in advertisements for Gillette. Henry was unveiled Oct. 3 as a global ambassador for the Tommy Hilfiger Group. What is different, however, is that the proceeds from sales of a limited-edition apparel collection will be donated to Henry’s One 4 All Foundation. Henry also started the Stand Up Speak Up campaign to fight racism in soccer.
Was he surprised that he was recognized at the Garden last year?
“I would love to say yeah, yeah, yeah, I was recognized, it is great,” he said. “But what really surprised me was when I saw
Spike Lee wearing my Arsenal jersey. It blew me away, to be honest. I didn’t know he was into soccer, but I knew he was a Knicks fan.
“Yes, I do get recognized when I’m in the States sometimes, but it’s not like in Europe. In New York and in America, I can be myself, I have no eyes on me. It’s O.K. if I want to buy a slice of pizza, pay the man and sit on a bench. I can go to the cinema and watch a movie, and nobody knows who I am. You don’t know how great that it is.”
Okay, so I guess we can start the "Henry to MLS" watch. I say give him 2-3 more years at Barca before he is really interested. That will also prep the U.S. market for his arrival. His team? Sounds to me like it would be the Red Bulls.

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