Football people on TV: Thierry Henry

Date published: Friday 3rd June 2016 3:00

This week Johnny turns his loving gaze upon the shapely thighs of Thierry Henry and wonders where all the love went…

Fashion police
As we waddle through foreign lands in our three-quarter-length pants, or saggy-arsed grey trackies, bellies protruding from under an over-priced official club shirt, we’re all guilty of thinking Europeans are often a bit more stylish than we are. Thierry is here to disprove this. He’s a perhaps surprisingly poor performer in the style stakes.

Mind you, anyone looking to the continent for fashionable male attire might as well bypass France and go straight to Italy. All Italian men look brilliant in any clothes, somehow managing to transform a potato sack into a stylish, unstructured, artisanal suit. Yer Frenchman aspires to this easy style but typically, just like Thierry, falls a long way short, possibly due to being obsessed with smoking fags and eating duck fat.

When working for Sky, and no doubt when on duty for the BBC this summer, he tends towards the style-neutral regulation undertaker’s black suit, black tie, white shirt. I think TV companies got a job lot and give them out as a freebies just to get rid. Stop it.

Maybe because of how he played football, people assumed he’d be a naturally stylish dresser. So TH has done fashion shoots but, as in this shot…

Thierry Henry GQ…he ends up looking like an uncool and vaguely embarrassed corporate middle-manager who is wearing someone else’s one-size-too-small clothes. Has certainly drunk far too deeply from the Jamie Redknapp well of infertility-inducing tight troos. Step away from the tailoring, Thierry.

However, he sports the phrenologist’s favourite haircut and suits it very well.

Lingo bingo
Let’s face it, anyone who can make themselves understood in two different mouth noise assumptions seems like some Babelfish wizard to most Brits. TH has got very good English and easily comes up to the required standard for any Frenchman in Britain, which is to sound like Peter Sellers playing Inspector Clouseau.

Seems unable to raise his voice and is often so soft-toned and undemonstrative that it would be easy to think that he was asleep. His words seem to softly caress your ears like pussy willow fluff.

When on top of his pundit game, he’s good at being slightly sardonic and understated. He can administer a good put-down, the best example of this is of course this:

And he’s gained a lot of goodwill, as a result. However, this was his high point to date.

Hits and misses
Well, for a start, his biggest hit must be the reported trousering of four sweet, green, million of yer English squids from Sky. The best-paid pundit in the land by a distance, allegedly. Why? Don’t ask, it’ll only hurt your sense of morality and make you feel like life is a pointless charade of materialism.

If anywhere near true, this is a ton of money for, let’s be honest, doing almost nothing, and who doesn’t admire that, even if our moral compass is spinning at the thought? Still, he is very charming. Perhaps it’s this eye-watering amount of money that causes him to drift off a lot of the time; he’s counting how much he’s earned in the last 90 minutes.

Thierry is part of the niche of football people on the telly who is, whether by accident or design, only there to smile and make everyone feel nice. Easily at his best when there’s some light-hearted chat and some compliments to be soaked up. Easily at his worst when asked to do analysis without much preparation time. We need more energy, luv.

Being great at knowing what is happening during a football match is an entirely different talent to being any good at playing football. Where TV producers often get it wrong is to assume being brilliant at football innately gives you both the understanding and articulacy to express that understanding. It doesn’t, as TH often proves.

However, this being said, he’s not a teeth-grinder. Not someone who you groan and shout “shut your meat hole you” at the TV as he flaps his gums. And that’s some sort of win for him.

In essence he seems very nice and we need nice in the world and in football. But all too often nice quickly becomes milky, which eventually turns righteously sour and unpalatable. “I’m not ‘avin yoghurt, Jeff. It’s just milk what’s gone off, innit.”

Another hit for him was this…

 …which is possibly one of the campest things to have been broadcast in a football TV studio. You can’t not enjoy everything about those few seconds.

Is it worth four mill, though? You know the answer. I know the answer. He probably knows the answer. But this is the world we live in.


Big club bias
Seems only deployed to cast his golden shower upon the elite in elite locations. Certainly employed to bring some glamour and stardust to proceedings. As such it’s hard to imagine Thierry even remembers a place like, say, Middlesbrough. I look forward to seeing him pitchside at the Riverside Stadium as a stiff, kidney-cauterising wind blows up the river while he eats a parmo. On the upside, Thierry is a great word to say with a Teesside accent – almost as good as Santiago.


Loved or loathed
Nobody loathes Thierry, except for Irish people, obviously. Yet outside of the “I’d like to punch the smug b**tard in the face” Irish feelings, my social media research revealed very little adulation, some pleasure and quite a lot of disappointment. There’s definitely a feeling that he was going to be something classy and different, but has turned out to be a bit vanilla. Sorry TH but the people have spoken.

One observer said it well – ‘I think he’s a pundit for the casual football fan not after much insight. There for sex appeal.’

Another said ‘his only highlight has been touching Jamie Carragher’s thigh’.

On another more homoerotic tip, a gentleman observes that he ‘keeps his hands in his pockets a lot when stood up. No doubt stroking a very efficient and attractive penis.’ Efficient and penis are not two words I’ve ever put together before, so thanks for that.

The ever-insightful Michael Cox says it best when commenting that Henry was a ‘big-money move on the back of a major tournament, hasn’t produced it week-in-week-out: a punditry version of Karel Poborksy’.

Someone said they’d shook his hand and was charmed by his smell and white teeth. Aw.

Another says: ‘He very much looks like U-God from the Wu Tang Clan. Always surprised he doesn’t highlight this more.’ I always thought Wu Tang Clan was an acidic Scottish soft drink, much like Irn Bru.

One commenter said ‘the lack of substance is f**king astonishing. Shearer with manners’. Ooof, harsh, but seems quite near the truth, apart from the fact Shearer is now good and TH isn’t yet.

The feeling that his heart isn’t in the gig pervades, along with the fact that he’s well short of the mark that so many others work harder to achieve, for much less money. A common view is that he’s of debatable value-for-money for Sky and potentially for the BBC too, this summer.

‘He’s just a mimbo,’ said someone else, presumably a Seinfeld fan.

As a summation, I shall quote and endorse a Twitter contributor called MikeAndrewBurke: ‘Expected more. Feels like he should swap analysis quality with Higginbotham, who I expected to be cliché, but is great instead.’


Proper Football Man
Don’t get me wrong, I like the fella, but Terry, Terry, Terry. Those Renault ads, son. What were you thinking? No PFM drives a Renault. The younger PFM favours the biggest Merc on the lot, the older, an orange and black Capri. Everyone knows that. Still, fair play for picking up a stink load of money for doing ads and TV. The PFM loves hoovering up cash for doing nothing and has perfected it to such an extent that he considers it part of his human rights.

At least Thierry managed the on-camera leg squeeze of Carra, so beloved of any purveyor of the football-themed roister and also the doister. But, disappointingly, it somehow looked like a scene out of Carry On Matron. This will be have been noted by the PFM ethics committee. No PFM likes to have his leg squeezed in a way which they would certainly describe as “a bit fruity”. All leg squeezes should be overly vigorous, to the point of skin-tearing aggression, so as to not be mistaken for mere stroking, or a desire to affectionately touch another man (only allowed after drinking two bottles of brandy). It should also be accompanied by a slightly too loud laugh and some sort of shake of said limb, which suggests if you don’t like this, we can go at it on the cobbles you old f**king c**t. No offence, it’s just banter, darlin’.

Also, Thierry’s wife divorced him for ‘unreasonable behaviour’ and any proper football man would be proud to be uncoupled for that reason, as he specialises in unreasonable behaviour and if she doesn’t understand that then she’s not the man I thought she was. But the reported £8 million settlement would make them seethe because you could buy a Man United reject for that, Richard. No disrespect, but she’ll only spend it on shoes and lacey wotsits.

The fact his current girlfriend is a Bosnian model wouldn’t sit right, as to all PFMs, Eastern Europeans are essential good for two things; cleaning your house and admirably robust, physical defending. Still, Thierry is a foreign, so you can’t expect him to uphold the PFM Englishman’s noble standards. One can only imagine the thunderous looks cast when they learn his first child is named Tea. You might as well have called your kid Tetley, Jeff.

But fair play for all the anti-racism campaigning, Terry. That Luis Aragonés was well out of order, mind that’s the Spainers for you, eh, no offence like, I never said them things. What?

Occasionally, the proper football men of the world like to have a continental clever with them to show the world how sophisticated they are when tying one down, especially if said man is one of the greatest footballers of the modern era. I mean, Terry was one of the greatest foreigns since Clyde Best, Richard. So a night out with Reidy and the boys is not at all out of the question and Thierry might even fancy a bit of a session on, what the rest of the PFM cabal would certainly call, ‘the pop’.

However, this is why so many ex-footballers end up in A & E with glass in their face, a carrot in their bottom, a liver the size of Belgium and with Reidy making charming visits to the pharmacy in return for shots of liquid morphine, Vitamin B12 and Strongbow.

Thierry would certainly try and have a good time at Carlisle’s finest dance emporium Shaved & Depraved and has a very good chance of emerging at 4.27am with Miss Capacious Body Cavity Body of 1985. But one can’t see him being prepared to be patient while watching Merse trying to out-run a three legged dog over three laps of the B & Q car park.

Thierry doesn’t want to be a PFM; in fact he doesn’t really understand what one is, but I sense he quite likes the idea of being their plaything now and again, possibly in return for more money than such an activity might be worth in any moral universe.


Beyond the lighted stage
Seems to largely live in the money-falling-out-pockets world where you’re so rich that you have to give some of it away in order to assuage the guilt of living like a king in a world of full of miserable poverty and governmental-led financial abuse. So to that effect…

Thierry Henry has supported the following charities.

  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

  • Cystic Fibrosis Trust

  • Elton John AIDS Foundation

  • Steve Nash Foundation


Doesn’t seem to do the gala dinner or the golf, but at least he hasn’t tried to record a hit single.


John Nicholson

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