France striker Henry announces international retirement

New York: Thierry Henry said on Thursday he is retiring from the French national soccer team.

The 32-year-old forward announced his decision during an interview before a news conference to discuss his signing with Major League Soccer`s New York Red Bulls.

Henry, a member of the French teams that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship, said he will not try to emulate England`s David Beckham and commute between the US and Europe.

"I always want to be here 100 percent and fully committed to this cause and the organization," Henry said.

Henry had 51 goals in 123 international appearances. He made his debut Oct. 11, 1997, in a 2-1 win over South Africa. His finale was June 22 against Bafana Bafana, when he was introduced as a 55th minute substitute in a 2-1 defeat that condemned France to a first-round exit from the World Cup.

"That was my last game, against South Africa," he said. "Ironically, it was also my first game in the national team against South Africa."

Henry said he had made up his mind to retire before the World Cup.

"I couldn`t announce it before because that`s the not type of thing you announce before a World Cup," he said.

The French players went on strike and refused to train before their final match of the World Cup after striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home for verbally abusing coach Raymond Domenech, who was replaced after the tournament by Laurent Blanc.

"We still have a good team," Henry said. "I think the guys that are going to stay, they still are great players. If you see the guys playing individually in their (club) team, they`re always doing great. But as you know, in a team sport, it`s always a matter of having a great team. It`s not only about individuals, and I think Laurent Blanc can do this."

Still, Henry doesn`t think this year`s World Cup was the lowest point in his career.

"Going to the World Cup in South Korea (and Japan) in 2002 was, I will say, my worst experience ever as a player," he said. "As a group, we didn`t even score one goal and we were the reigning world champion. And we bounced back, and we went to the final of the World Cup in 2006. Obviously we didn`t win it. It still hurts."

Bureau Report

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