Pep Guardiola will provide the “reference” for Thierry Henry as he begins his managerial career at Monaco.
The Manchester City manager worked with Henry while both were at Barcelona from 2008-2010, and although he was phased out under him, the Frenchman remains an avid admirer.
As with Guardiola at Barca, Henry’s first job in management comes at the same club at which he started his playing career.
He is widely recognised to have played his finest football under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal from 1999 to 2007 before returning for a brief loan spell in 2012, but it will not be his fellow Frenchman he will model himself on.
Speaking at the first press conference since his appointment at Monaco, Henry said: “Pep is the reference, for me, I’m not saying for everyone.
“There’s no right or wrong; that’s the reference for me. We learnt how to play the game when I went to Barcelona under him. With Pep you can talk about the game; he will not even go to sleep and will still talk about the game, you will fall asleep and he’s still talking.
“The invention he had in the game; he’s well ahead of the game, I saw it closely.
“You learn from people; they inspire you. But you also need to put your own little mix in it.
“Talking about the managers that I had; I learnt with a lot of them, every single one of them. Whether they challenged me, whether sometimes they were doing the wrong stuff; that’s when you learn the most – when things are not going well.
“But if I talked about Arsene, Arsene unlocked a lot of stuff in my mind, made me understand what it was to be a professional, what it was to perform. I will never forget that. You know the relationship I had with him so I will always carry some of the stuff that he was doing.
“A lot of people (also) inspired me in France.”
Henry had been a significant figure in the great Arsenal team of 2003/04 that went unbeaten throughout the Premier League season, finishing the campaign as champions.
Despite also excelling in Spain, his influence was not the same at Barca after his first year under Guardiola — their team from 2008-2012 is widely regarded as the finest in history — but for all of the glory of his time at both clubs, Monaco also had an emotional pull.
“When the offer came it was quite logical; my heart talked,” he explained. “You know the connection I have with one club in London, but this is where I started. This club will always have a big place in my heart.
“So to be able to come here and start here again is a dream come true, I won’t lie. There’s a lot of work to do, as you can imagine, but I’m more than happy to be here.”