Henry confirms international retirement

Thierry Henry has confirmed his retirement from international football with France after completing his move from Barcelona to the New York Red Bulls.

The 32-year-old scored 51 goals in 123 appearances for France – with both totals standing as French records.

He scored three goals as France won the World Cup in 1998, but suffered frustration in the following years as Les Bleus struggled to recapture that form.

This summer’s World Cup was among the greatest disappointments as France were eliminated in the group stages amid stories of widespread discontent and crumbling discipline in the camp.

However, Henry said today he had already made his mind up to quit before the World Cup, and that events in South Africa did not contribute to his decision.

“South Africa didn’t play any part in it,” he said at his unveiling by the Red Bulls.

“I could have announced it before the World Cup but I just didn’t want to put that type of cloud on top of the team.

“My decision was already taken before the World Cup. I think it was time for me to stop after the World Cup.”

Asked about what unfolded in South Africa, where France took only one point from their three matches with Henry making only two substitute appearances, the striker said many of the claims made about levels of disharmony in the squad were wide of the mark.

“I actually would like to know myself (what went wrong),” he said.

“I don’t know what it was. From a personal point of view, I am always going to respect the decision of the coach. It was (Raymond Domenech’s) decision not to play me and I respect that.

“Lots of stuff was invented unfortunately. I just like to stick to the pitch, and the problem was we didn’t play very well. That’s the only thing we should be talking about right now. We didn’t perform. It’s as simple as that.”

France opened the tournament by drawing with Uruguay, but then lost their second match 2-0 to Mexico.

It was during that match that Henry’s former Arsenal team-mate Nicolas Anelka verbally abused Domenech, leading to him being sent home in disgrace – a decision that was followed by the squad refusing to train in protest.

That sparked a virtual meltdown of the France squad, but Henry insists there were no tensions between the players at the outset of the competition.

“We had a good atmosphere, but when you don’t perform well it is difficult. A lot of the stories that came out were invented. For me, you can also have a lot of stuff happening when you win. We just didn’t play well. I will stick to this.”

Henry added: “You have to remember that with a world champion team, we went to the World Cup in 2002 and didn’t score a goal, so it’s not just this generation.

“I think the team should move on now with Laurent Blanc in position as the coach, and hopefully they can qualify for the European Championships and do well in that competition.”

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