When Thierry Henry arrived at the New York Red Bulls in 2010, he wasn’t looking for friends. He was looking for success.
The iconic striker joined RBNY following a glittering career in Europe that delivered a seemingly endless supply of goals and trophies with the likes of Arsenal, Barcelona, and the French national team.
That trend continued Stateside, with Henry hitting the net 52 times in 135 appearances across all competitions for the Red Bulls, helping deliver the 2013 Supporters’ Shield title and five consecutive MLS Cup Playoffs berths.
Henry never came to MLS for an easy ride and brought that same competitive streak that delivered so much success in Europe – a relentless attitude that was often hard on those around him.
“I know I was tough, for sure. I was tough with myself. I was expecting the same [from everyone],” Henry said on the Lade Out podcast with former RBNY teammates Connor Lade and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
“People [would] come to training and are like ‘Oooooh!'” he recalled. “They toe poke each other and I’m like, ‘What!?’ I’m like, ‘Come on man let’s have a go, let’s battle!’
“If you’re trying to be a killer, you’re trying to be a killer. So trying to balance it out with showing vulnerability or empathy, it’s tough.”
Of course, this was a player that had won Premier League, La Liga, and Uefa Champions League titles prior to joining the Red Bulls, not to mention World Cup, European Championship, and Confederations Cup honors with France.
Henry wasn’t expecting the world from his teammates. He was simply looking to inspire them.
“[It’s about] making everyone understand what it takes to just be professional,” he said. “I’m not asking you to be Pique. I’m not asking you to be Messi. I’m not asking you to be Robert Pires or Patrick Vieira.”
Also speaking on the podcast, Wright-Phillips believes Henry’s winning mentality was undervalued during his time in New York – perhaps a contributing factor in the Red Bulls failing to win MLS Cup.
“My time at Red Bull, when you were there, I don’t think we used you enough. We should’ve used you more as a voice, someone you get advice from. I think they could’ve used you a bit better,” Wright-Phillips said.
Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.