I know I can be a pain but I'm a winner, says Henry

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Thierry Henry, the Arsenal striker, yesterday offered an intriguing insight into the pursuit of perfection that drives him - and explained why he does not smile, even when he scores goals.

Thierry Henry, the Arsenal striker, yesterday offered an intriguing insight into the pursuit of perfection that drives him - and explained why he does not smile, even when he scores goals.

Henry, speaking in the buil-up to tonight's Champions' League tie against Bayern Munich at Highbury, with Arsenal trailing 3-1 from the first leg, said that sometimes he apologises to his team-mates for his behaviour "because I know I can be a pain" and admitted that he is "never satisfied".

Henry, 27, said: "People talk about my attitude and body language. But it's not because of the guy, it's because I want to win. Sometimes it looks bad on TV because it looks like I'm having a go.

"When people see my face on the pitch they always think I'm not happy. That's not true. Even when I score I think sometimes of things I missed before. That's the way I am. If you ask any guy in the dressing-room I'm sure they will tell you I always like to laugh, but on the pitch things are different for me."

Henry said that his demeanour had even cost him popularity. "One day I saw a guy talking about Ronaldinho and he said that he voted for Ronaldinho [as world player of the year] because Ronaldinho was smiling a lot. I know in France a lot of people say to me that when I'm on the pitch it seems like I'm upset. I try to explain that it's not because I'm upset with anyone."

Instead, Henry said, it is because of the fierce desire to win that is ingrained in him. "I have been educated in a hard way," he said. "I'm not trying to do the crying game but I don't come from a nice area [of Paris] so the only way for me to go out of it, I suppose, was for my parents to be really hard on me.

"Who likes to be second best? Everything I do - even when I play cards with my friends we have arguments because I want to win. If I see people play and not want to win it does my head in. Sometimes you can see it, I think."

Henry said that he usually does not talk ahead of such matches but felt he needed to "explain once and for all" his motivation, even if his manager Arsène Wenger said yesterday he was "too hard" on himself.

Henry said he was aware of the expectation. "If I don't do it, I am a bit upset because I know that when I am on a good day, I can help the team," he said.

"If I don't score then what I'm prepared for is that it's going to be down to me. I can take it. That's the way it was even when I was young."

However, he said that, above all, he was a team man. "I really hate strikers who, when people give them a goal, go to the other side to celebrate like they did something amazing," he said. Arsenal, Henry went on, are far from a one-man team. "The only player I have seen winning games on his own was Diego Maradona. Even scoring with his hands," Henry said. "I don't remember anyone else taking a team from the beginning to the end and making them win, such as the 1986 World Cup."

Nevertheless, Henry, the third highest-scorer in the Champions' League, was quick to defend his record.

"People talk about Ronaldinho. He's an amazing player, but he's scored two goals in the Champions' League, one penalty, and four in the league, three penalties. He has people around him. It's not just a Ronaldinho show when Barcelona play. It's a team game. So it will be Arsenal versus Bayern Munich, not Thierry Henry versus Bayern Munich."

However, he added, there would be "no compensation in life" for defeat and voiced his frustration at not having won the Champions' League.

Although Bayern will be missing their top scorer Roy Makaay, Arsenal will be bolstered by the return of Dennis Bergkamp, whom Henry described as his best strike partner. "To play with him is just a dream," he said. Arsenal fans will hope to be in revelry tonight.

Arsenal (probable, 4-4-2): Lehmann; Lauren, Senderos, Touré, Cole; Ljungberg, Flamini, Vieira, Pires; Bergkamp; Henry.

Bayern Munich (probable, 4-1-3-1-1): Kahn; Sagnol, Lucio, R Kovac, Lizarazu; Demichelis; Salihamidzic, Frings, Diesler; Ballack; Pizarro.

Referee: M De Santis (Italy).


How do they beat you?

Bayern have a wealth of experience at this stage of the Champions' League. An iron defence forms the basis of a solid team that will look to score on the break.

How do you beat them?

Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn is prone to the odd mistake on which the Arsenal attack will look to capitalise. Bayern's attack is weakened by injuries to Mehmet Scholl and Roy Makaay.

Key man?

Claudio Pizarro comes into the game in good form after scoring a hat-trick in Bayern's 7-0 Cup win against Freiburg.

Any familiar faces?

Owen Hargreaves is an England regular with 25 caps.

League position?


Last match?

1-0 win over Werder Bremen.