As Thierry Henry sits down to discuss his latest football project in the idyllic surroundings of Lake Como, he can’t help but ask himself how he got here.
It wasn’t his delayed trip to Milan that made him think. It’s more his own trip. From a young child training with a tennis ball in his parents’ temperate apartment in the Parisian suburb of Les Ulysses to date, he enters the domains of club property.
After a playing career that saw him win Premier League titles, Champions League titles and the World Cup, the 45-year-old took his love of the game in a new direction by investing in the eagerly ambitious 1907 Second Division club Como. A trip that his younger self would never have dared think of.
Thierry Henry was announced as a contributor to Serie B FC Como at the end of August
He said, ‘You know, I come back to this Sportsmail. “I used to have a tennis ball in my driveway at home, trying to keep the ball up and making sure it wouldn’t touch the walls because if that happened, I’d be in trouble.
Now, being a contributor to a team? I mean, you don’t even think about it, especially not where you come from. If you think about the journey – which is not over yet – this is a new chapter.
A new chapter brings with it a new approach to life, both on and off the field. Henry was fascinated by the project instilled in Como. There is a desire to return the club to Serie A, but it is not the owner’s only goal, nor is it what tempted the French player to seize the opportunity to invest.
The Darom Group, which bought the club in 2019, is focused on delivering projects within the local community – including a pledge to ensure all products and products used and produced by the club are locally sourced within the region by 2025. Henry’s younger priorities may be but not now .
Henry admits that his outlook has changed since his shoes were hung – his children played a role, as did the recent pandemic.
Gone are the forces that are used to drive him – a winning mentality that has seen him thrive with indomitables at Arsenal and carry back-to-back big titles with France. The same mindset that saw him take Ireland’s World Cup hopes, quite literally, into his own hands in 2009.
Henry (center), along with Djarum Group representative Mirwan Suwarso (left), Dennis Wise (second left) and agent Darren Dein (right) at his unveiling as Como investor
“As a player I was there to kill,” he says. I wasn’t there to entertain or think what was on your mind. I was there to kill. To win with my team. That’s about it.
I’m not here to kill more. I’m not playing, it’s over. It’s more about talking, about having connections. About being vulnerable. Making people understand that being vulnerable is a good thing.
When you’re young, you don’t hear about being vulnerable, that’s fine, quite the opposite. Especially in the game.
Now people express themselves. I thought I knew things about the game but the new generation is re-educating me on how to play now.
Henry feels comfortable surrounded by familiar faces in Como’s conference room. Former Premier League rival Dennis Wise is the club’s chief executive, while Cesc Fabregas has also invested when joining the club on a two-year contract last month. The club does not comment on the amount made by any of the former Arsenal stars. The three share the same agent Darren Dean, son of former Arsenal owner David.
It was Fabregas who convinced his former teammate to jump on board with the chance. “I know if Cesc is surprised by something – because he forgot to be stupid – it’s because something happened,” he adds.
This move sees Henry join his former Arsenal teammate Cesc Fabregas as an investor
As a shareholder there is no day-to-day role in Lombardy, a situation that suits Henry well. With the World Cup fast approaching, he still has an assistant role as a coach with Belgium to juggle his roles as an analyst with CBS and Amazon Prime in France.
Since he is nervous, he has come to the club to facilitate, not dictate.
“I’m not here to tell people what to do, it’s not on my part,” he says. If Dennis wants to know, if people want to talk to me, and get me and me involved in attending the game, I’ll happily do so. But you have to know where you are.
If you are Gilberto Silva or Dennis Bergkamp. Gilberto will play Gilberto, and Dennis will do Dennis. This is why a team is a team. Stay on track. Stay in your area.
“I am a contributor, this is my way.”
A different lane, but the boy from the outskirts of Paris still goes places.
Henry still has other duties, including media work with CBS in the US and Amazon in France