Arsenal

I was crying almost every day’: Arsenal great Thierry Henry on battle with depression

The player-turned-coach recalled childhood memories on the ‘Diary of a CEO’ podcast

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has opened up on his career-long battle with depression.

The Gunners’ all-time leading goalscorer, who also won the World Cup with France, has revealed how he was “crying almost every day” during the Covid-19 pandemic while in lockdown in Montreal, Canada.

Henry has linked his depression to his childhood and revealed how he once scored six goals in a youth game but his father, Antoine, was still not satisfied.

Speaking on the Diary of a CEO podcast, Henry said: “Throughout my career, and since I was born, I must have been in depression.

Did I know it? No. Did I do something about it? No. But I adapted to a certain way. That doesn’t mean I’m walking straight, but I’m walking. You’ve got to put one foot [forward] and another one, and walk. That’s what I’ve been told since I’m young.

“I never stopped walking, then maybe I would have realised. [But during] Covid – I stopped walking. I couldn’t. Then you start to realise.”

Henry, who is now the coach of France’s Under-21 team, had episodes during his playing career when he would struggle mentally.

The 46-year-old says he would put on a metaphorical cape to get through it and, after his playing days, became a coach with Belgium, and then Monaco and Montreal Impact to keep busy.

It was while in Montreal, and unable to venture outside due to Covid, that Henry realised he had been battling depression.

“Everything came at once, especially during the Covid time,” he said. “I knew it before, but I was lying to myself. I was making sure those feelings weren’t going too far, I put the ‘cape’ on. But when you’re not a player anymore, you can’t put that ‘cape’ on. ,

We tend to run instead of facing our problems. We try to stay busy, we try to avoid the problem or not think about it.”

Henry says at that time he was “crying almost every day for no reason”, adding: “Tears were coming alone. Why I don’t know, but maybe they were there for a very long time

Technically, it wasn’t me, it was the young me. [Crying for] everything he didn’t get, approval. I was isolated and not being able to see my kids was tough. I don’t even need to explain that one.

“Something like that had to happen to me to understand vulnerability, empathy, crying. Understand that emotions are emotions. I don’t know whether that needed to come out. It was weird but in a good way.”

On his upbringing, Henry recalled one game where he scored every goal in a 6-0 win for his youth side. But his father was not satisfied and picked holes in his performance because he “missed that control, missed that cross”.

“As a little boy it was always: ‘you didn’t do that well’. So obviously when you hear that more often than not, that’s what’s going to stay,” said Henry.

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