French striker Thierry Henry on Thursday confirmed that he has retired from international football after making 123 appearances and scoring a record 51 goals for France.
Appearing at a press conference at the Red Bull Arena following the officialisation of his move to Major League Soccer side the New York Red Bulls, the 32-year-old explained the reasons behind his decision. "I've worn (the French shirt) 123 times and I've always had goosebumps when I've worn the blue jersey," he said. "But you have to know when to stop. There are young players coming through."
Henry, who arrives in the States from Spanish champions Barcelona, dismissed suggestions that he was winding down his career. "When you join a club you always try to win the title, which is what I'll do here," he said, adding that football was on the rise in the United States. "Twenty-five million people watched the final of the World Cup. It's extraordinary."
He earned his first cap for France in a friendly against South Africa in October 1997 and played his final international game against the same side, as France bowed out of the FIFA World Cup™ at the group phase with a 2-1 defeat by the hosts last month following a disastrous campaign.
Between those two games, Henry's career in French colours touched soaring highs and miserable lows. He was a junior member of the side that won France's first FIFA World Cup on home soil in 1998 and which went on to win UEFA EURO 2000 and the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup.
His tally of 51 international goals was 10 goals more than the mark of 41 set down by former France great Michel Platini. One of his most memorable strikes came in the quarter-finals of the 2006 finals, when he volleyed a Zinedine Zidane free-kick into the roof of the Brazil net to send France into the last four.
He endured bitter disappointment with France, however, when Les Bleus crashed out of the 2002 finals at the group stage and then repeated the feat at EURO 2008. He subsequently spent most of his time in South Africa on the bench, after France coach Raymond Domenech informed him prior to the start of the tournament that he was no longer guaranteed a starting place.
With 123 caps, Henry trails only Lilian Thuram (142) in the list of his country's all-time appearance makers.