Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Henry: "Catalonia is not Spain"

Barcelona player Thierry Henry gave an interview to Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia.

Why are people always that critical? Even about Messi, people are saying he's playing regular lately.
It's normal. If you score three goals every game and you don't play well the next, that's... Leo is leo, it's a genius. If you don't have quality, it's very difficult to understand someone who does. What he does is not normal. Every genius, those who play or those who paint, is difficult to understand.

You expect every opponent to play tough from now on? How would you have to deal with those kind of games with an opponent who focuses on kicking and a referee who doesn't pull cards?
I really didn't see a team like Espanyol kicking a lot. I've played in England for eight years and there they kick. I didn't see anything here yet. Here you cannot touch anyone, if you do, it's card, card, card. In the cup against Atlético, is was over the top. Sometimes when you just jump for a header, the referee already indicates that it's a fault. Men like Alan Shearer wouldn't have been able to play here.

What's the last thing you read and learnt something from?
I didn't read a lot lately, but the last ting that had an impact on me was an autobiography of NBA coach Phil Jackson. In the book he explains how Michael Jordan made fifty points and his team didn't win. It was only when he started to play for the team that Chicago started winning and that Jordan became the best player in the world thanks to his teammates. It's a nice lesson.

You who has the reputation of being a little grumpy, are you going through the best moment since you arrived in Barcelona?
The team is playing better, one enjoys more. The thing is that in the big games in December I played well, I've scored in important games and I've changed a little the general opinion about me. But without the team you cannot do that. It's true that if you get a good ball from behind that puts you in a one on one, everything is easier than when you have three defenders before you.

But you also have more confidence.
Last year was a string of events. I arrived injured, I played because of my own fault, I forced myself and I shouldn't have done that. It was hard to regain the trust of the fans, we weren't playing well, it was difficult for me to understand the new way of playing. Moving to another place, learning a new language, that makes it all hard.

You had a hard time adapting?
What I think is this: Catalonia is not Spain, it's something else and you have to feel that. Barça is another story. When you arrive here from Arsenal it's surprising to see so many people, it's a shock. You have to live it if you want to understand it. In England there's a different mentality. When I left England after eight years, it wasn't easy. But after eight months, when my back didn't hurt anymore, it was time to gain some confidence and win back the people.

You already feel loved?
The truth is, yes. Last season, in the stadium, we went through moments that were very tough, although justified because we didn't win anything, we didn't do anything. I'm my own first criticiser. It was difficult to hold on. This year, people were happier.

When you played at Arsenal, you were already a symbol, and you're still, but people keep questioning you.
I like it when people question me. I demand a lot from myself, so it's normal other people do the same. The real problem will be when they won't question me anymore. The fans expect a lot from Leo, from Samu, from myself, from the whole squad. It has been that way all my life. My father has always told me: "You have to give more." If I have scored three goals, people ask why I didn't score four. Yes, I'm going home being satisfied, yes, but there's always a question mark.

You're on your way to turn 32. You would like to finish your career here?
Of course I would like that. I always say that and sometimes it's like people aren't paying attention. I love the city, it's February and look at that sun. How hard it might have been last year, in the streets, people always were supportive. You can live good here, the food is great. We're in one of the three, four best clubs in the world. It's normal I want to finish here. Wearing this shirt is an honour. But before you understand the shirt, you have to understand the club, the city. Last year I only understood things very late in the season: I was in the northern hemisphere and the club in the southern.

How would you like to be remembered in ten years?
I don't know. A career isn't only about one or two years, it's a journey of 15 years. For me that's the most important thing. Sometimes you have a difficult year but in the end people look at your whole career to make a judgment.

The first time we met was in 2001 when you went to see a basketball game in New York, invited by Philadelpia player Allen Iverson.
Oh yes! The Bulls were my first team though, I like Iverson more as a person than as a player. I'm friends with Tony Parker, Ronny Turiaf and Steve Nash.

You have plans to invest in a French basketball team together with Parker?
No, that's not true. Maybe something else but I can't talk about that.

The tattoo on your left wrist. What is it about?
(shows it for a few seconds) It has nothing to do with a friend, or with my daughter, or any of the other stuff that has been said. It's just a private thing. I put this tattoo for myself. (brings the tattoo to his nose as he leaves)

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

This was the second and last part of this interview. You can read the first part here:
Henry: "This team never surrenders"

Read more:
Henry becomes fifth European goalscorer
The man who changed Henry's luck
Henry will be put for sale in the summer


noubarca said...

lol.. cheeky thierry

barca4life said...

Iverson, a true baller. A warrior one of the greatest little men to ever play the game of basketball. I guess the true greats know each other. henry likes iverson, kobe liked ronaldinho and now likes messi.

ekar said...

What does he mean by "seeing so many people here is a shock"?

Still, nice interview, and lol when is he going to tell us about the lucky tattoo???

KluivertsBoots said...

He's probably referring to the way the club is followed with the "so many people" comment.

FCB is a true part of society, and there aren't many (if any) other clubs where that is the case.

ekar said...

Ohhhh, well that's right! :)

Anonymous said...

maybe its a scratch and sniff tattoo

Anonymous said...

"Catalonia is not Spain"..haha he's a true convert now. Long Live King Henry :D

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