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Thierry Henry on the greatest pressure of his career: “Putting a smile on my father’s face.”

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Canal Plus, French football legend Thierry Henry discussed the greatest pressure of his career, and its source: his father.

“Whether you like it or not, you’re the reflection of how your parents brought you up. I was brought up in relation to what didn’t work, rather than what did. My dad would always say “Oh you had a bad game, you put in a bad cross, you did this poorly, you messed this up…” So I developed a sort of shell because I knew that at the end of the game, he would tell me what I did incorrectly.”

“So I grew up understanding what I did incorrectly. And not on what I did well. (…) The greatest pressure I had in my career was putting a smile on my father’s face. If only to see one of his teeth! Anything… That was the hardest thing I had to do. When you leave the dressing room, the face goes like this (puts on a slight frown and serious face). (…)I not only felt my father’s intransigent attitude throughout my whole career, it was inside me. It was inside me, and is part of who I am. It was my mindset, his mindset which he gave. (…) As a kid I was able to surmount my father’s intransigent attitude, which helped shape me as an individual.”

“But as a kid how do you shape yourself? You just do it. (…) But as a player, regardless of the game, sometimes I would go to the locker room, and be angry over something that I missed. We could have won a game, but I would still go home angry. (…) Me not celebrating is just who I am. I can not lie to myself. The way I grew up is the way I grew up. That’s what got me here.”

“If my father had not educated me like that, when you arrive to Arsenal and train with Davor Suker, Marc Overmars, Kanu or Dennis Berkgamp, how do you make it? And what about when you’re 20 years old in the French national team with Deschamps, Desailly, Zizou or Djorkaeff amongst others. When they look at you, what do you do? And then when you get to Barcelona, and you see Ronaldinho, Eto’o and Messi? What do you do? (…) To each their own way of raising their kids. You know very well that saying thing to one child does not always have the same effect as the other. But had my father not raised me like that, as far as I’m concerned, how would I have made it out? When I talk about my father, I’m more than grateful! I’m 10,000 times grateful, more than that!”


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