Amid retirement rumours, New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke believes club captain Thierry Henry could play for two more years if he wants to.
There remains a possibility that Thierry Henry could be taking to the pitch for the final time when the New York Red Bulls host Sporting Kansas City in Thursday night’s MLS knockout-round play-off match.
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 Frenchman so far remaining mum on his plans.
Having turned 37 this summer, 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.
The Arsenal legend is expected to make an announcement at the end of the season, amid suggestions that he could return to the Gunners for one final hurrah, but his head coach Mike Petke insists he is none the wiser to how things will play out.
‘I mean the only thing I could do is speculate with that because he has stuck true to his word that he’s not going to make a decision this season,’ he was quoted on bigapplesoccer.com.
‘Having been a player that has retired, I know that both aspects play into it, physically and mentally.’
First arriving 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 30 games to demonstrate that his aging legs are still more than capable of producing the goods.
Petke believes his star man could play for two more years if he has the desire to but, with the Red Bulls eyeing a first-ever MLS Cup, immediate focus is turned to what they hope will be the first of six post-season fixtures on Thursday.
‘Obviously physically is pretty important because if you just can’t do it physically, [it] doesn’t matter how mentally strong you are,’ he said. ‘You’re not going to be able to do it, but I think Thierry could play two more years I think, easily. If he took [care] of his body, which he does, I think that he could certainly still play.
‘So I have no clue what he’s going to do and I’m sure that all that comes into it – mentally, physically – I know he has his daughter back in London, I’m sure everything plays into it and that’s why, perhaps, he’s not making a rash decision.
‘It’s not like how Mike Petke announcing his retirement you know, when two reporters are standing before him,’ he added. ‘If he announces retirement our announces intention to play – especially being out of contract – I mean it would be a circus no matter what he said so I understand why he’s not saying anything.’