Henry defends role in Nike campaign

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The Independent Football

Thierry Henry launched a veiled attack on the England defender Gary Neville after the Manchester United player criticised the commercialism of the Stand Up, Speak Up anti-racism campaign.

Thierry Henry launched a veiled attack on the England defender Gary Neville after the Manchester United player criticised the commercialism of the Stand Up, Speak Up anti-racism campaign.

Neville welcomed the anti-racism initiatives taken by England and the Netherlands during their friendly at Villa Park last Wednesday, but warned that commercial companies were in danger of using such campaigns for free publicity. But without directly naming Neville, Henry chose to defend his leading role in Nike's campaign.

"People should go above that," the Frenchman said. "When I phoned Nike I phoned Nike for help. I will never thank them enough for saying 'yes'.

"When players don't say anything and don't take their own destiny in their own hands people say 'players never do or say anything'.

"That is why I really admire people like John Barnes, Cyrille Regis - because they are the guys who made it possible for us [black players] to come [to England]. Those people have helped a lot.

"If one bad thing had happened to them and they had walked off the pitch and said 'I'm not playing' maybe it wouldn't have been the way it is now in England."

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