- Henry scores golden goal to ensure France defend title on home soil
- Tournament overshadowed by tragic death of Marc-Vivien Foe
- Both teams display solidarity and humanity in final
France entered the competition as defending champions after beating Japan 1-0 in the 2001 final. However, their success did not prove a good omen for the FIFA World Cup™ the following year, when, as title holders, Les Bleus exited the tournament after the group stage with one point and not a single goal to their name.
Despite this disappointment, Jacques Santini’s side appeared rejuvenated on home turf at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2003, winning their three group matches against Colombia (1-0), Japan (2-1) and New Zealand (5-0) before overcoming Turkey 3-2 in a free-scoring semi-final.
Coached by Winfried Schafer, Cameroon made a dream start to the tournament by beating Brazil 1-0, defeating Turkey by the same scoreline with a penalty in stoppage time and securing top spot in their group thanks to a goalless draw with USA. Although Africa’s representatives came through their last-four encounter with Colombia with another 1-0 victory, the result was overshadowed by the tragic death of Indomitable Lions midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe, who collapsed unexpectedly on the pitch during the game and later passed away.
With both teams forming a circle to observe a minute’s silence for Foe before the final kicked off, the match got off to an understandably slow start. While Henry threatened to break the deadlock several times before actually scoring, Cameroon also had good opportunities to take the lead through Pius Ndiefi and Samuel Eto’o.
With the game still scoreless after 90 minutes, Henry finally made the breakthrough seven minutes into extra time. After Lilian Thuram successfully picked out the striker with a long ball into area from the right wing, the Arsenal legend beat Cameroon goalkeeper Idriss Carlos Kameni from a tight angle with a first-time strike from close range. With this golden goal, France became the first team to defend the FIFA Confederations Cup title, while Henry’s four strikes earned him the adidas Golden Boot and Golden Ball.
Between 1994 and 2014, Henry enjoyed an illustrious career in which he represented Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona and New York Red Bulls. After being transformed from a winger to a centre forward by compatriot Arsene Wenger during his time with the Gunners, the Frenchman’s pace and technical skill helped him to become a true goal machine. He was also an integral part of Arsenal’s Invincibles, who won the 2003/04 Premier League title without losing a single match.
As well as winning domestic championship titles on five occasions, Henry’s extensive honours list includes a UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup double with Barcelona in 2009. Undoubtedly his greatest success was winning the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ on home turf, an unforgettable victory that was followed by triumph at UEFA EURO 2000 and a 2006 FIFA World Cup™ runners-up medal.
Unsurprisingly, the affable striker also collected numerous individual accolades during his career, including a spot in the FIFA 100 list and two second-place finishes in the FIFA World Player of the Year vote. With his considerable expertise currently in demand as an assistant coach to the Belgian national team, we may yet see Henry standing on the touchline as a head coach somewhere.
What they said
"There was plenty of respect between the teams; it was much calmer than usual. After the match ended, everyone’s thoughts returned to Marc-Vivien Foe. The players’ reactions showed that they were just normal people. They showed that some things are far more important than winning or losing." Match referee Valentin Ivanov
"He was in the penalty box, the ball came to him and he fired it past the keeper. I wanted to go and make sure that it had really gone in, but there was no need for that. Thierry wheeled around in celebration and we chased after him. Afterwards we all walked around the stadium together with a photo of Marc-Vivien. It was extremely moving and still makes me very emotional even now. We made our way around the arena all mixed in together; it was a good moment, a really good moment." France striker Djibril Cisse
"It wasn’t easy as we had messed up the 2002 World Cup, where we didn’t manage to win a single match." France midfielder Robert Pires
"We had decided that we should play the final for [Foe], in memory of him and only for him. [The circle both teams made before kick-off] showed how Marc-Vivien always brought people together. He was a wonderful friend and our brother." Cameroon goalkeeper Idriss Carlos Kameni