The players of Montreal Impact tell us he still has that ‘swagger’. And of course he does — he is Thierry Henry, a man whose aura was just about the only thing not blown away when biting gales bent the palm trees and disrupted training earlier in the day.
But now, away from the practice pitch and sitting here over coffee in the team’s Florida hotel, there is humility. A hint of fear, even.
We are talking management. In this conversation, he does not have the protection of his 411 career goals and countless pieces of silver. Nor does he want that shield. All he has is the four wins from 20 games during his ill-fated spell in charge of Monaco last year.
Thierry Henry, new boss of Montreal impact, does not want the protection of his career goals
The Frenchman displays humility when discussing his managerial career with Sportsmail
The Arsenal icon is desperate to make a successful career in the harsh world of management
‘When you sign as a coach, I say to my friends, “You have to keep the engine running outside”. You come in every day, “Am I still in? Yes? OK, let’s go”. If you’re not OK with that then don’t bother. You have to put your pride and your ego to the side because they will be crushed. You have to keep that engine running, always.’
Henry was sacked by Monaco last January only three months into his first job amid claims of a fallout with his players, whose attitude he had questioned.
He was appointed head coach of Major League Soccer’s Montreal in November and has invited Sportsmail to their pre-season training camp here in a sunny but gusty Orlando. ‘It’s minus 20 in Montreal,’ says Henry, sitting down. ‘I don’t even know if I will be recognised there. I haven’t left the house yet!’
First, there are some rules. He does not want to talk about Monaco. He seems in a good mood so I ask anyway.
‘It’s in the past. There are so many things I can say that I will never say because I have respect for my old club. I’m here now, I have to move forward.’
Henry was sacked by Monaco three months into the job amid claims of a fallout with players
Henry’s Monaco record
Games managed: 20
Henry, you feel, would like to set the record straight. It is the sentimental connection to the club where he made his debut at 17 that guarantees his silence.
Now 42 and five years retired, he instead talks of his move to Montreal as his ‘start’ in management. We discuss his former Sky colleague Gary Neville’s disastrous spell as Valencia boss. For Neville, that was the end and he quickly returned to the TV studio. Could Monaco have caused Henry to do the same?
‘No, never,’ he states. ‘It actually reinforced what I want to do. How many goals did I miss as a player? Lots. You have to get up, learn from it and fight again. You either win or you learn. You never lose.’
When Henry was born in the Les Ulis suburb of Paris his father, Tony, cradled him in his arms and declared: ‘My son will be a footballer’.
Tony made it his…