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Thierry 'Super-cool' Henry!
« on: July 08, 2006, 08:23:01 AM »

Eight-year wait a motivation for Henry

Thierry Henry 
Frankfurt: World Cup final frustration has been building in Thierry Henry for eight years. The France striker hopes to take it all out on Italy.

Henry was not yet one of the world’s most feared scorers when, in the 1998 World Cup final against Brazil, France coach Aime Jacquet told him to prepare to play. Then France defender Marcel Desailly was ejected.

“The coach changed his mind,” Henry recalled.

Having to protect a 2-0 lead with 10 men, Jacquet decided to send on midfielder Patrick Vieira instead. The plan worked, and the hosts hung on to win 3-0.

When France returned as defending champions in 2002, it was a shadow of their former self and went out in the first round without scoring. This time, Henry never got close to playing in the final.

France began this World Cup with uninspired draws against Switzerland and South Korea, feeding fears that Les Bleus would again go out in the first round — especially with playmaker Zinedine Zidane suspended for the final group game against Togo. But things changed dramatically and they completed the turnaround when Zidane scored a penalty awarded for a foul on Henry to beat Portugal 1-0 in Wednesday’s semi-final.

Now Henry faces a miserly Italian defence that has conceded one score in six games — and that an own-goal by defender Cristian Zaccardo in a 1-1 first-round draw with the United States.

“Italy is a team which waits and waits,” Henry said Wednesday. “They send you to sleep and then they score two goals in the last two minutes.”

But what more motivation does Henry need?

Those who watch him regularly for Arsenal and France know his strengths. Henry at his best glides past defenders with his speed and expert ball control, swapping first-time passes with teammates as though they are reading each other’s thoughts.

He bends long-range free-kicks past bewildered goalkeepers and strokes the ball into the net with ease. With more then 200 goals, Henry has broken all of Arsenal’s scoring records and has decided to stay with the north London club for four more years. The problem is, he doesn’t always produce his best performances in the big games.

He squandered chances in the Champions League final and, when presented with simple opportunities against Switzerland and South Korea, tried to score show off goals.

He knows he’s one of the best players on the planet and has come a long way since that day he was robbed of a World Cup final appearance by Desailly’s red card. Against Italy, France will be ecstatic if Henry scrambles the ball over the line off his knee, shoulder or back. As long as it’s the winner.



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