MONTREAL – When Thierry Henry captained the Red Bulls, he liked to refer to head coaches Hans Backe and then Mike Petke as “the boss.”
Now, he is the boss of a Major League Soccer team as he was named head coach of the Montreal Impact Thursday morning.
The World Cup winner and French international signed a two-year deal with an option for 2022.
“It’s an honor to coach the Montreal Impact and return to MLS,” Henry said. “It’s a league I know well, in which I had some very nice moments. To be in Quebec, in Montreal, which has an enormous multicultural heritage, it’s extraordinary. I’ve always kept an eye on the club and now I’m here.”
Henry, 42, played for the Red Bulls from 2010-2014.
“We are extremely happy to announce the nomination of this legend of the game,” Impact president and CEO Kevin Gilmore said. “Henry will bring a new energy to our club. He shares our vision to elevate this club and will help us achieve our goals on and off the field. He is a competitor and a leader who has proven himself at the highest level throughout his career. He now brings these qualities with him to Montreal, a place he wants to be.”
Henry forged a reputation as one of the best strikers in the history of the game. After an 20-year playing career, Henry retired Dec. 16, 2014. He then became a coach in the Academy of English club Arsenal, in February 2015.
In August 2016, Henry became an assistant coach of the Belgian national team, which reached the semifinal of the 2018 World Cup. The team defeated England in the third-place match.
He then accepted the head coaching position at AS Monaco, the Ligue 1 club, but lasted only months there.
It will be intriguing to see what sort of relationship Henry has with the Montreal media because he had a caustic one with the New York/New Jersey media. He will be introduced to the media Monday.
Still, he is as big a name a team can select as a coach. Henry is bilingual in French and English..
“We are extremely happy with the arrival of Thierry Henry,” Impact sporting director Oliver Renard said. “Young and dynamic, he’s very familiar with MLS and meets the qualities we were looking for in our search. This nomination, two months before the start of camp in January, will give us a chance to build our squad with the man that will lead it.”
A Ballon d’or finalist in 2003 and 2006 and FIFA World Player of the Year finalist in 2003 and 2004, he climbed to the top of Arsenal’s goalscoring charts with 228 goals in all competitions, where he won two Premier League championships, three FA Cups, while also taking part in a UEFA Champions League final. With FC Barcelona, he won La Liga in 2009 and 2010, as well as winning the UEFA Champions League, the Copa Del Rey and the FIFA Club World Cup.
He concluded his professional career with the New York Red Bulls in 2014, after spending four and a half seasons in MLS, scoring 51 goals and adding 42 assists in 122 games, including 118 starts. He notably won the Supporters’ Shield in 2013, was chosen three times on the league’s Best XI, and was selected to play in the MLS All-Star game four times.
Henry played in four World Cups with the French national team (1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010), winning the tournament in 1998, in France. He also won the Euro 2000. He is France’s all-time leading scorer with 51 goals in 123 games.