Brussels: Thierry Henry has landed his first major coaching role as assistant manager to Roberto Martinez with the Belgium national team.
Former Arsenal striker Henry will combine his new role with his work as a Sky television pundit, in much the same way Gary Neville did with England. The move is a major coup for both Belgium and Henry, who will also use the job to work towards gaining his Uefa pro licence. It is understood news of Henry’s appointment has gone down very well with Belgium’s players – particular the forwards, many of whom idolised Henry when they were growing up.
New Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke used to have posters of Henry on his bedroom wall and, along with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi, will now get to work with his hero. Henry has been looking for a coaching job since Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would not allow him to combine his Sky work with a role with the Under-18 side. The Frenchman has landed a far more prestigious job, however, as Belgium are widely regarded to have one of the most talented squads in the world.
Henry’s first game as number two to former Everton manager Martinez will be Belgium’s friendly clash with Spain on September 1, meaning he will most probably have to pull out of an Arsenal legends match two days later. Speaking about his new job, Henry said: “I feel honoured to be offered and accept the role of assistant coach of the Belgium national football team. Thank you to Roberto Martinez and the Royal Belgian Football Association for this exciting opportunity. I can’t wait.”
Five days after the Spain friendly, Belgium start their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign against Cyprus. Sky are happy for Henry to take the Belgium job, just as they were willing to allow him to combine his punditry with a role with Arsenal’s Under-18s before Wenger vetoed the plan.