Thierry Henry may be France’s all-time top scorer and leader of his country’s attack for over a decade yet he is set to fill an unaccustomed role as ‘super sub’ at the World Cup in South Africa.
Henry reportedly agreed to be deployed as what L’Equipe on Monday described as a ‘joker de luxe’ when national manager Raymond Domenech paid him a visit in Barcelona this month.
And sure enough Henry, who has scored 51 international goals, has started on the bench in both of France’s warm-up matches in the past dew days.
He came on for Nicolas Anelka at the start of the second half in the 2-1 win against Costa Rica in Lens last Wednesday, and entered the fray at the same juncture, again replacing Anelka, in the 1-1 draw with Tunisia in Rades on Sunday.
Domenech was his usual guarded self when tackled on his reported tete-a-tete with the former Arsenal striker in Barcelona before he unveiled his provisional World Cup squad on May 11.
“I am at Tunisia-France, other people’s gossip is just gossip…” he said in Rades after Sunday’s game.
Henry himself appeared relaxed with his newfound role.
“I had a chat with the coach, he told me that I wouldn’t be starting the game. As I’ve often said, the most important thing is the team. I try to come on and to give something when I’m called on to be of service to the team,” he told French television.
Henry, who has only produced two goals for Barcelona since January, added: “We’re not here to know who will play and who won’t play. No one is above the team, we’re all in this to go as far as we can together.”
The 2006 World Cup finalists fell behind to an early goal in Rades before William Gallas headed home a second half leveller, the Arsenal central defender’s performance one of the few positives from this latest warm-up.
France have one remaining friendly scheduled against China in Reunion on Friday.
They open their World Cup campaign against Uruguay on June 11.