New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke has hailed Thierry Henry ahead of what could be the Frenchman’s final home game for the club.
With his contract expiring at the end of 2014, Henry’s future with the Red Bulls has been one of the major talking points in MLS over the course of the current campaign, with the forward so far remaining mum on his plans.
Having just turned 37, retirement rumours have been swirling in recent months but, while it remains uncertain whether he will ultimately call it a career, several reports have already suggested that a return to New York is off the table.
With two games left of the regular-season, a fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference could therefore render Sunday’s match against the Columbus Crew the last opportunity home supporters have to say goodbye to their star captain as the club heads into the playoffs.
And, though it’s likely that they will host at least one post-season game given their recent solid form, Petke has nevertheless moved to hail the impact Henry has had on both the franchise and the league as a whole over the past few seasons.
‘He’s one of the greatest soccer minds….to have a conversation with Thierry about soccer is like talking to Albert Einstein about physics,’ he said during his weekly media conference call.
‘It’s truly amazing, to be honest with you. I think for a long time after this, the effect of Thierry Henry is going to be felt. It’s not necessarily a great thing, because to replace someone like him if, if, this is his last year will be I don’t want to say impossible, but pretty damn near impossible.
‘I think Thierry has brought something to this league that perhaps only one other foreign player has brought, which is obviously David Beckham,’ he added. ‘You can even say it’s very different things that they’ve brought to this league. I would even through Landon Donovan in there as a domestic player who’s brought so much to this league.
‘But Thierry is arguably one of the top players in the history of this game. The prestige that he has brought over here, the recognition back in Europe, just from him being here and coming here in his prime, to be able to witness him on a daily basis over his entire stay in MLS is something I’ll never forget.’
Having arrived in July 2010 from Barcelona to much fanfare, Henry is in the midst of his most productive MLS season to date, notching up 14 assists and 10 goals in 29 games to demonstrate that his aging legs are still more than capable of producing the goods.
With his eyes set on adding a first MLS Cup to his collection, the Arsenal legend will be hoping that there are at least a few more home matches to come over the coming months, but what plans he has beyond then remains up in the air.