Paris: Thierry Henry will be looking to lead by example in the Confederations Cup starting on Wednesday after a dismal World Cup last year.
In the absence of teammate Zinedine Zidane and Brazil’s Ronaldo, both freed for Real Madrid’s final push for the Spanish league title, the Arsenal striker could steal the limelight.
“I don’t know if people are expecting more from me this time,” Henry said at France’s Clairefontaine training camp southwest of Paris as they prepared for their opening match against Colombia.
Henry did little of note in the Korea/Japan World Cup where France failed to progress from the first round except being sent off half an hour into their second match against Uruguay.
“Whatever the match I’m playing, the fans always kind of expect something from me. Either with France or with my club, people care that I’m on the field and some of them cheer me,” he said.
Henry is only 25 but since France’s 1998 World Cup victory he is regarded as a match-winner by teammates.
During the 2000 European championship finals, he was named Man of the Match in his first two games, going on to help France to their second major success in a row.
“I’m not that old,” said Henry, who has been capped 46 times and scored 18 goals for France. “But when young players are called up, the first thing they do is watch you.
“They just look at the way you behave on and off the pitch. My duty is to be beyond reproach, to do whatever I can to help the team win.
“From time to time, I can give them a piece of advice even if I’m not much older than them. But I’ve been an international for six years now and I’ve learned many things.”
Often playing on the left wing, Henry is almost unstoppable when he is carrying the ball as he can outsprint even the fastest defenders.
The tall, right-footed striker has not only great pace, he can also take sharp free kicks within a distance of 25 metres and he is dangerous with his head in the box.
“If you play for a team which has great quality then there is no excuse for you not to score. Putting the ball in the net is the job of the striker,” Henry said.
“This is what he is made for and what he is paid for.”
Henry’s main weakness is that he is not keen to come back quickly after an attack breaks down to help his teammates defend.
“I would like it sometimes if the team could rely a little bit more on me,” he added ruefully.