When Thierry Henry came to Major League Soccer, he didn’t sell himself as a savior or league ambassador; he simply wanted to fulfill his dream and compete in the city he so greatly admired as a child.
The hard-nosed team captain may come off as an imposing and at times unapproachable figure. Media pundits around the country have repeatedly taken his bristly demeanor on the pitch as a clear indication of a negative attitude that does more to hurt the club instead of advance it.
For Henry, that simply isn’t the case.
“Listen, I’ve said it to the guys. I’ve never said it to (the media) since I’ve been here,” Henry revealed. “I think when you enter a competition and when you play for a team, you want to win everything you can, right? For me, it is very important to win (the MLS Cup) especially for the club, for the franchise, for the fans.”
Henry has always been a winner. He has the Premier League trophies, La Liga awards and UEFA Champons Cup to prove it. For him, being a winner is non-negotiable. That attitude can perhaps best be demonstrated by his work this week. While the club took time away from training during the international break, Henry joined newcomers Lloyd Sam and Luis Robles to practice in preparation for the stretch run.
His drive is not only to win an MLS Cup for the fans, who he readily admits have “been waiting for a very long time” to celebrate the victory, or the long suffering franchise. Henry wants to leave a positive legacy that will go beyond personal achievements.
“I came here to help this game develop,” he said. “It would be more satisfying in a way for me when I leave in two years time that some players got better playing alongside me and helping the game develop than winning the MLS (Cup).
“Now, don’t get me wrong. That’s the aim. But I said when I am going to retire finally, the beauty of it for me will be for instance, Connor Lade being on the National Team and one day coming up to me and saying, ‘You know what, you helped me throughout my career,’ and stuff like that. That for me would be better victory than winning the MLS.
“(But) don’t get it twisted. I’m dying to win it. Two different stories.
“The game here is developing and that’s all we want,” he continued. “At the end of the day, me winning it with the Red Bulls is not going to change how the game is improving here. But me talking to the guys and them listening can me a massive difference. That’s why I wanted to say what I said before right?
“Obviously, it goes without saying that we want and I want to win MLS Cup, especially for the fans. You know, they’ve been suffering for a little. We all know it’s not easy to win in New York but we are going to have a go this year. First, we think about making the playoffs, that is the important thing.
“Again, don’t get it twisted. I want to win the MLS Cup. But remember what I said … that is also important for me.”