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July 15, 2010

Thierry Henry

SPEAKER: This is a memorable moment in the history of Major League Soccer as we welcome one of the great players in our history to our league, to our shores, to help us on this quest to continue to build a soccer nation in our country.
So, Thierry, on behalf of all of our fans first and foremost, all of our players, the owners of our teams, our business partners, everybody who loves the game, welcome to Major League Soccer. Welcome to this quest to build the sport.
We couldn't be more excited than having you join us on this journey that we have to continue to create a country that truly loves and believes in the game.
As everybody here probably knows, over the last month we've proven to the whole world that this country's passionate about the sport. We've had record ratings. We've had more fans that went to the World Cup than any other country. So it really is our time.
So this is a new day for soccer in the Tri-State area. It is a new beginning of a new era for Major League Soccer as we welcome not just a great player, but a great man to our league.
As you hear us say all the time, we're a league that believes in the character of our players. And I want to say for me, personally, we are as excited about Thierry the man as we are Thierry the player, and the commitment that he's had to UNICEF, to combating racism in our sport, to eradicating AIDS on our planet within our lifetime. These are call causes that we hope we can join with Thierry and our other players to make a positive contribution to the life of our fans.
And only days removed from Spain winning its first ever World Cup championship, a dozen years ago our man in the middle helped France do the same. Twice in his career he was runner up for FIFA Player of the Year. He once scored 30 goals in 37 Premiership games for Arsenal. He wore the captain's arm band for that club. Even today he stands as their all-time leading scorer. No player has ever scored more goals or made more appearances for France.
His teams have won league titles in the English Premiership in Spain's La Liga, and with Barcelona he claims the UEFA Champions League title as well. New York and New Jersey welcome Thierry Henry.
THIERRY HENRY: Thanks. Well, as you can see, I'm just thrilled to be here. Everybody knows that I love this city. But I can assure you that I came here to try to win. That is the most important thing. I'm a competitor, and I'm sure the boss will put a team out there to be sure that we can do it.
I just wanted to thank also the league, obviously, the club and the brand to be able to bring me here and make my dream come true. I wanted to come here for a little while now, and finally I'm here. So I hope you can enjoy my game and let's hope we can all enjoy a title also.

Q. This has been rumored for well over a year now that you'd be coming. When did you officially decide to come to New York and what is your reason for joining Major League Soccer and the Red Bulls?
THIERRY HENRY: Well, exactly, I can't tell you exactly a date. But I had it in my mind for maybe four or five months, I can say. Coming here was always the only option for me. First of all because I met some people that came to the MLS before and played for this club, and I played with a guy you know well Youri Djorkaeff, and when we talked about the club with Claudio Reyna, too.
So for me there wasn't any other option. I wanted to play for the Red Bulls and also for New York, and I wanted to represent New York. I love this city. It was like a no-brainer for me.

Q. Before you start here, I wonder if you can tell us, sort of put behind what happened in South Africa with the French team?
THIERRY HENRY: I actually would like to know myself what went wrong. On a personal point of view, I've always got to respect the decision of the coach. His decision wasn't to play me, so I had to accept that and respect it. A lot of stuff were invented, unfortunately.
After I just like to stick to the problem that we had. I think we didn't play well. That is the only thing that we should be talking about right now. We didn't perform. As simple as that.
I would like to refresh everybody's mind that we were a world champion team. We went to the World Cup in 2002 and went back home not scoring a goal. So it wasn't a matter of only this generation like you hear sometimes. We had great players also in 2002 and we didn't perform. Sometimes you don't know what's happening on the page, but you just don't perform.
It was a sad one for the fans and for the country, but I think we should move on now. Laurent Blanc is going to be in position as the coach. So hopefully they can qualify and do well in Europe.

Q. Were there divisions in the team? We heard about divisions within the team, whether they were racial or anything like that, or was it just an on the field the problem?
THIERRY HENRY: Well, I'm a football player, to be honest, so it's the group that we had a good atmosphere. The thing is when you don't perform well, it's kind of difficult to say it and to show it.
Then I say to you a lot of times some of the stories that came out were invented. But I said, for me, you have some stuff happening sometimes also in a group when you win. But, you know, I just think -- well, I don't think -- we just didn't play well, so I think I will stick to this.

Q. You had the opportunity to play against Juan Pablo Angel when he was at Aston Villa. How excited are you now to partner with him here in New York?
THIERRY HENRY: Well, that will depend on what the boss wants to do. But I'll always admire him as a player. He's a great goal scorer. Kind of an old-fashioned one, very great.
He's had amazing and good protection. He's got a good back to the net. So obviously when he's feeling well, it's going to be a goal, so I hopefully can do that for him. I see he's been doing it for a long time here, so hopefully we can do it together.

Q. When you talk about loving New York, have you spent a lot of time here? And when you say that, what motivation or other things would you like to get out of sort of being in this market and this city?
THIERRY HENRY: Well, I've been coming to New York since '96, so whenever I can come, I come here on vacation. After talking about the expectation, I mean, what I want is to win with the team being able to enjoy on the page, to share lots of time. I hope there's going to be lot of happiness instead of sadness. That is what I'm looking for. Work hard to bring a title back are here. After this, I don't look for any more stuff. I came to play football.

Q. The difference of MLS is different from England or Spain. Are you prepared for this new challenge in your career?
THIERRY HENRY: You talk about challenge. I know some of the guys on the US Team, they don't all play on the MLS, but I think the American players are now playing good football.
Myself, we played against Seattle. We also played against the New York Red Bulls coming here on tour. We had a hard time.
Sometimes on some occasion they were outplaying us. So I think it is difficult to compare the two leagues, obviously. But I think there are some great players here. It's sort of a mental thing.
I come here to help my teammates, and I expect them to help me too. As long as we can have that togetherness and be able to compete as a team, I think we can do whatever. I understand what you're saying. But that's not the way that I'm coming here, and that's not the approach that I have.

Q. A lot has been made about last season at Barcelona. Obviously you're not starting as much. I wonder, can you assess yourself as a player right now and what do you see as your strengths and where do you see yourself as a player almost at 33?
THIERRY HENRY: Right here with the New York Red Bulls trying to win a title. That's what I can say. Obviously a lot has been said when I was in Barcelona. The thing you guys didn't know is I played the first four months injured, trying to play for a National Team and coming back injured for Barcelona. I think that didn't help.
Then some guys in the meantime were playing well, and the boss was still putting them on. Sometimes you have to accept the deal of players playing better than you at the time.
Having said this, I have a chance again to be part of a team that won the league. The year before we won six cups, so I was part of this. I said to you I'm just waiting now to be able to go out there and representing the New York Red Bulls.

Q. When did you finally make up your mind that you were going to retire from international --

Q. When did you finally make the decision to retire from international football, and what were the reasons behind it and how much did the events in South Africa play a part in it?
THIERRY HENRY: First of all, in South Africa, I didn't play any part of it. I could have announced it before the World Cup, I just didn't want to put that type of kind of cloud, if I can say, on the top of the team. My decision was taken right before the World Cup. So that's it.
Nothing triggered it. I think it was time for me to stop after the World Cup, so that's what I'm going to do.

Q. The fact that you visited New York since 1996, what are your impressions about Major League Soccer? And what did Youri tell you about the Red Bull organization and New York City?
THIERRY HENRY: Youri doesn't talk too much. He's really straightforward. He said to me, "Go there. You will enjoy it. The fans are great." Obviously, he told me you will love the city. He didn't have to convince me on that one. So it was just like a normal conversation. He didn't tell me more than this.
The first question? Sorry, I didn't remember what you asked me the first one.

Q. Your impressions of the league since you've been visiting the States since '96?
THIERRY HENRY: Well, the league I would say has changed a lot. Obviously, when you see the facility that we are in right now, that tells you a lot. I know some of the teams also have good facilities because we played them on the tour with Barcelona.
As I said, speaking with Frederick Hamburg, and some guys that I know in the league they are telling me that things have changed a lot and are getting better. As I said, the final of the World Cup was, I think, 25 million people watched the final, something like this. That is also a sign that football is moving.

Q. On behalf of the home of Red Bull Stadium, we want to welcome you to our community and we open our arms to you and are glad that you're here. Welcome to New York and Harrison-New Jersey area?

Q. If there is anything our community can do to make your stay here better, we're all for it. Thank you.
THIERRY HENRY: Thanks, I appreciate it.

Q. This league has seen a number of fairly well known players come through the turn styles or through the league from Roberto Donadoni to Hristo Stoichkov in the early years to more recently Beckham and Youngberg. Has the impression overseas changed among the elite players of what kind of ball is played here?
THIERRY HENRY: Well, I don't want to name names, but I can tell you that some of the guys on -- I know a lot of the guys who would like to come. That speaks volumes also. That means the guys are looking at the league to come and play and compete here. So I think you have to thank everybody who is involved to make this league progress. So I would say yes to you. They see it as a competitive league.

Q. On behalf of the Brazilian and Portuguese community, from Brazilian Press, welcome to our community. But we don't forget French 1998. But we welcome you and good luck with the Red Bulls.
THIERRY HENRY: Thank you. I just would like to say just something.
I just wanted to thank Football Club Barcelona. They gave me a chance to win and doing everything when I was playing for them. I had a great time there. I wanted to thank the boss that was in charge, La Porta, all the fans, everybody working at the club. They've been great with me. I had a great time. I had a chance and opportunity to win the Champions League.
So I just wanted to say to all of the fans in Barcelona, as they say over are there, Los Culès, that I was thrilled to play for them, and I'll never forget my time over there. There you go.

End of FastScripts

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