Sometimes, when you interview a prolific name in the game, you’re lucky if you manage to get a decent conversation out of it. Sadly, players and managers are more likely to keep their true thoughts close to the chest than open up and really show any kind of honesty.

It’s not the guest’s fault. On the contrary, it’s the only alternative.

Due to the aggressive nature of football’s digital landscape and the rapid way in which news is consumed — from breaking reports to gossip and generalizations — the relationship between interviewer and soccer guest is fragile. 

So when you do end up having an honest, open conversation with one of the greatest players the game has ever seen, it’s not welcomed, it’s celebrated.

Enter Thierry Henry, one of the greatest players the game has ever seen. A World Cup and Champions League winner, with titles in La Liga with Barcelona and the Premier League with his beloved Arsenal. France’s all-time scorer. A Ballon d’Or runner-up. 

I mean, the list of accomplishments and accolades just go on.

But this is also about Thierry Henry the manager, who is looking ahead to MLS Decision Day as his Montreal Impact — currently holding one of the final spots for the playoffs — face D.C United on Sunday.

Thierry joined me on ¡Qué Golazo! with the greatest interview I have ever conducted. He opens up about everything. From his year managing in MLS with Montreal, not being able to see family and dealing with the pandemic and fights against racial injustice to coaching in general, and his thoughts on the most important factor in life: Passion and hunger.

I asked him this in relation to the video MLS posted recently about him managing on the touchline and how he felt about it. To him, this is nothing new. He was the same way when he played. Always talking, always passionate. Nothing he has achieved came without desire. Nothing. It wasn’t about talent. It was about wanting it more. And that’s what he wants to see from players now. 

“Desire is key. Being brave is key. Tell me what’s the difference between you playing in the street and now?” he said, talking in general about players in the game, not Montreal. “When does the desire disappear, back when you were in the street? 

“Now that you arrived and you get the ‘easier life.’ When does that desire go? 

“Because what brought you in that game is desire, trying to be best and being brave. When you were in the street and said, ‘if only I had that opportunity to play [professionally] I will show everybody what I can do.’ 

“So now that you’re on the field and you can show everybody what you can do. Once you reach that point of always wanting to, that desire, what’s changed from the street?”

Henry also offers his thoughts on Mikel Arteta and Arsenal as the Gunners continue their search for glory. “First and foremost you can see an identity and togetherness. Like I always say, a game is long, to build a team, doesn’t happen just like that overnight,” he said. 

“I always use [Jurgen] Klopp as an example. I remember when he first arrived he couldn’t hold a lead. It took him years to be a competitive team. Now, everybody respects what he does and rightly so because he was a hell of a manager.”

He makes this comparison of patience with Arsenal. 

“So now it was Unai Emery and now Mikel Arteta. It’s not easy to go after Arsene Wenger. It’s not easy at all. With Mikel, I see that the passion is back, a certain happiness is back, he gives them a good solidity. 

“Now he needs to deal with [Mesut] Ozil case and other cases, but that doesn’t happen overnight. When you’re in a team with someone, you need to make sure you can clear some stuff. Because it just doesn’t happen overnight. So he needs to bring in players he needs to fit his system and that takes time. And on top of that, this league takes even more time because the competition is crazy.”

Henry also laid it all out in regards to his former teammate Lionel Messi and the incredible way he has been mistreated. 

“When I see people having a go at Messi, I laugh … people forget that last month he went to play in Ecuador and then he went to play in Bolivia. You can’t even walk in Bolivia! Players coming from Europe, you’ll pass out,” he said. “People forget that we’re not machines. I understand that you need to sell stuff and you need to tell stories, but not this guy. Seriously. I played with Leo, this is not the guy you need to attack.”

And where should he end up? If he’s not happy?

“I don’t care,” says Henry. “Lionel Messi deserves happiness. The amount of joy he has given to people. He’s one of the only players that make me go — cause I am stupid like that. If I watch a game and you do something really crazy, I’ll just scream,” he said. 

“He’s one of the only ones still who does that. We pay to watch football because of him. No disrespect to anybody. Lionel Messi just needs to be happy. Where he goes, I don’t care. This is not the discussion. Lionel Messi deserves to be happy. I just hope he keeps playing so my eyes can be looking at something beautiful and warms my heart with beautiful football.

“Emotion, passion. You’re always going to connect with people. I’m just passionate and I know sometimes passion goes up a lot, but that’s just me.”

God bless you, Titi. Stay like that. Always. 

For the whole conversation make sure you head over to ¡Qué Golazo!   and don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review! 


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