- Associated Press - Thursday, July 15, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - Thierry Henry is retiring from the French national team.

The 32-year-old forward announced his decision Thursday at the offices of The Associated Press before a news conference to discuss his signing with Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls.

A member of France’s 1998 world championship and 2000 European champion teams, Henry said he will not try to emulate England’s David Beckham and commute between the U.S. and Europe.

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


Henry had a French record 51 goals in 123 international appearances. He made his debut Oct. 11, 1997, scoring in injury time of a 2-1 win over South Africa. His finale was June 22 against the Bafana Bafana, when he entered in the 55th minute as the French were eliminated from the World Cup with a 2-1, first-round loss.

“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 made up his mind before the tournament.

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

French players went on strike and refused to train before their final match when striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home for verbally using 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 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 World Cup was the lowest point in his career. The 2002 World Cup in South Korea has that distinction.

“We didn’t even score one goal and we were the reigning world champion,” he said. “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.”

Domenech didn’t start Henry at the tournament, using him twice as a substitute.

“I will always respect and accept that. It wasn’t easy at the time, but I don’t regret anything,” Henry said. “I think for the French team and French football it’s time to move on and make sure that they can be again successful.”

By coming to New York, Henry realizes he could anger a large Irish community. On a blown call last November, Henry handled the ball twice with his left hand, poking it to William Gallas for a go-ahead extra-time goal against Ireland in a playoff that put France into the World Cup.

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