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Thierry Henry

Soccer Player

Born: 17 August 1977
Birthplace: Paris, France
Best known as: The superstar whose handball put the French into World Cup 2010

Thierry Henry is the global soccer star whose handball goal against Ireland in 2009 made him also globally infamous. Thierry was by then 15 years into a pro career that started with a French first division debut at age 17, playing for Monaco vs. Nice on 31 August 1994. He was a surprise star on the French national team that won the World Cup in 1998, and signed with Juventus that same year. In 1999 he moved to Arsenal of the English Premier League, and there he became an international star as a smart, fast, goal-scoring striker. He endorsed Renault cars, Nike shoes and Gillette razors, and was a spokesman for UNICEF and the "Stand Up, Speak Up" movement against racism in football. He was transferred to Barcelona in 2007 and signed a four-year contract for nearly seven million Euro per season.

Henry was at the center of a soccer storm on 18 November 2009: in extra time against Ireland with a World Cup berth on the line, he knocked down a ball with his hand, then passed to teammate William Gallas who headed in the goal that tied the game and put France over Ireland into World Cup 2010. The handball was immediately compared to the infamous "hand of God" goal by Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup, and made Henry an instant villain in Ireland. He said after the match, "I will be honest, it was a handball. But I'm not the ref. I played it, the ref allowed it. That's a question you should ask him."

Extra credit: Henry's parents were immigrants from the French Antilles... He married the model Nicole Merry in 2003, and their daughter Téa was born in 2005. Henry and Merry split in 2007, and their divorce was finalized in 2008, with Henry paying a reported eight million pounds in the settlement... The referee in the 2009 handball game was Martin Hansson of Sweden; the linesman were Stefan Wittberg and Fredrik Nilsson.

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More on Thierry Henry from Infoplease:

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  • 2009 People in the News - Selected biographies of well-known figures in the news in 2009

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