Thierry Henry speaks of his struggle with depression

Thierry Henry has opened up about realising he “must have been in depression” during his career.

Thierry Henry

The 46-year-old former forward, who won the World Cup with France and is Arsenal’s all-time highest scorer, says he had a moment early in the coronavirus pandemic where he was “crying almost every day”.

Henry has linked that to his past and a search for approval, having grown up with a father who was critical of his performances. 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 says he had a “cape” for when he “felt a struggle coming” during his playing career, and that after retiring in 2014 he then was “trying to find a way to wear that cape”.

He was on the Belgium coaching staff and managed Monaco before taking charge at Montreal Impact in late 2019, and he said: “Then Covid happened. I was in isolation in Montreal, and not being able to see my kids for a year was tough.”

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.”

Thierry Henry

Regarding his upbringing, Henry said his father was “very particular at times on how I was as a player”, adding: “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.”

He recalled an occasion as a teenager when he scored all of the goals in a 6-0 win, only for his father to tell him he should not be happy because “You missed that control, you missed that cross”.

While the situation “did to a degree help the athlete” it “didn’t help so much the human being”, he said.

Henry, who is now the France Under-21s manager, said that after the period of isolation in Montreal he had a key moment with his children that made him “feel human”.

Reflecting on when he had come back home and was about to return to Montreal in early 2021, he said: “I put my bags down to say bye and everybody starts to cry, from the nanny to my girlfriend to the kids. For the first time I am like ‘They see me, not the football player, not the accolades’, and I felt human.

“I put my bags down and I stopped coaching in Montreal. I said: ‘What am I doing? Going to go again into a situation just because of your pursuit of pleasing people? They love Thierry, not Thierry Henry.’ I stayed, for the first time I felt human … and it felt nice.”