London (AFP) – France and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry ended his association with the English Premier League club on Tuesday preferring to focus on his burgeoning media career.
The 38-year-old former striker — part of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning teams — could have coached the Gunners’ under-18 side but declined the offer when Arsene Wenger told him he would have to give up his lucrative Sky Sports TV contract for which he is reportedly paid £4 million ($5.2m, 4.7m euros) a year.
Wenger, though, has several television contracts including with Qatari-owned beIN Sports.
Henry, Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer with 174 goals in 254 appearances from 1999 to 2007, had been working with Arsenal youth players as part of his UEFA A Licence course.
“I would like to thank Andries Jonker for offering me the chance to coach the U18’s @arsenal, which I was honoured to accept,” Henry tweeted on his Twitter account.
“However I respect Arsene Wenger’s decision and I want to wish their manager Kwame Ampadu, the boys and everyone at the club all the best for the forthcoming season.”
Another former Arsenal legend, Tony Adams, 49, is expected to return and take the role with the under-18s.
Adams’s former central-defensive partner Steve Bould is Wenger’s assistant manager while another ex-player, Freddie Ljungberg, will work with the under-16s.
Henry must now find a team to coach to complete his Pro Licence.
Reviews of Henry’s performances as a pundit for Sky have been largely negative, but critics agreed that he was far better on the BBC during Euro 2016.
Noted sports TV critic Giles Smith said in The Times newspaper on Tuesday: “One puzzle we’re nowhere nearer solving: how can the same Thierry Henry who is so open and engaging on the BBC be such a lump of wet wool on Sky Sports?”
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