06/24/2021 at 10:07 AM CEST
He is not Belgian, he has not dressed as a footballer in a long time and he has not had a great career as a coach. But Thierry henry exerts a strange influence on the Belgian team, where the atypical figure of the former French striker as assistant coach is considered a great asset of the Red Devils.
Moments after Belgium’s victory over Finland on the third day of the group stage (0-2) of the Eurocup, with a goal from Romelu lukaku who certified the pass of his own as the first of the group, Henry was seen giving directions to the Inter Milan striker on the pitch, while dispatching with a quick handshake those who came to greet and interrupt the talk.
The scene is usual, because Thierry Henry is “a second father to Romelu Lukaku”, as the Belgian newspaper Le Soir titled a text about the excellent connection between the Inter Milan battering ram and the old “gunner”, both capable of analyzing videos and plays until the wooden horses were bored.
Arriving at the Belgian national team In 2018, the Frenchman advised Lukaku to lose some weight, because his 100 kilos of corpulence made him slow down, says Le Soir’s article.
Now he marks 93 on the scale, instead of carbonara and pizzas he eats salads and fish and has been the best player of the season in Serie A, although in Italy they blame his transformation on the nutritionist from Inter, Matteo pincella. But the spell of the Belgians with Henry goes beyond Lukaku. The players seem sincere when they say they appreciate the Frenchman for his technical advice, but also for creating a good atmosphere and connect on a personal level with them.
Just look at the video released this week by the Belgian Federation in which the former Arsenal, Juve and Barça player, at 46, throws an impeccable free kick over a training barrier, to the general delight of the ‘devils’.
“We train for half an hour and put some in, and he arrives with his left and destroys us“he joked Kevin De Bruyne after the anecdote; “The guy has been retired for ten years and comes from destroying the whole team,” said Lukaku.
BACK AND BACK LOVE
Henry, who as a player has a World Cup (1998), a Eurocup (2000) and a Confederations Cup (2003) with France, arrived at the Belgian Federation in 2016 as the third coach of the Spanish national team Roberto Martinez, a coach whose prestige has grown with Belgium where they play Lukaku, De Bruyne, Hazard, Courtois or Carrasco. The second was Graeme Jones, Martinez’s assistant since 2007 in English football.
The top scorer of the “bleus” was then starting a career as a coach and Belgium seemed like a good school, after not finding a place at Arsène’s Arsenal. Wenger.
In the Belgian Federation it was understood that, facing the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the first major tournament with the “golden generation” of Belgian football mature and in top form, Zidane, Deschamps, Vieira and Thuram’s former teammate brought international experience and motivation to a talented but young team, whose stars were around 26 years old.
The Belgians finished third in the World Cup, a historic result, and the Frenchman signed as Monaco’s head coach. But things did not go well for Henry in the Principality and the following season he led the Montreal Impact in Canada, where he did not reap great results. In those two seasons he had 12 wins, 9 draws and 27 losses.
And shortly before the start of the Eurocup, Belgium announced, by surprise, that Henry was returning to accompany the Red Devils in the continental championship as the coach’s deputy, a position he shares with former Scottish Glasgow Celtic footballer Shaun Maloney, whom Martinez coached at Wigan.
“It seemed natural to us to continue the story that began in the qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup.“, said then the coach, who described the French as an” added value “for his contingent.
The local press celebrated it with joy in a country where the figure of Henry is respected, whose role is reminiscent of that played in the past by Marco van Basten with the Netherlands team. “It is the continuation of an unfinished story for which we will give everything for it to be successful, “Henry said.
In Belgium it has been speculated that Henry may be the coach to relieve Roberto Martínez, who ends his contract after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. But the Federation has told the local media that “Titi” still lacks experience.