Perhaps Thierry Henry saw a little bit of himself in Fabrice Muamba, a young man in a foreign country looking to better his life, and finding it through soccer.
Perhaps they made a connection: Henry, the star player at Arsenal who had won a World Cup and a European Championship with France, and Muamba, a teenager moving up through a very talented and competitive Arsenal academy.
We may never know, because Henry isn’t talking about it. and he has gained a great deal of respect for not doing so.
Muamba, 23, is slowly recovering after collapsing on the field from cardiac arrest March 17 during his club Bolton’s FA Cup quarterfinal against Tottenham.
He would have died on the field if not for the persistence of medical personnel, who worked on Muamba for 78 minutes to get his heart beating on its own.
Some say it was a miracle he survived the night, but in the days that passed he was sitting up in bed and eating. While he has made progress, doctors are still unsure of the cause and are monitoring his situation carefully.
The following Wednesday, Henry visited Muamba in the hospital then flew back to New Jersey in time for Red Bulls media day Thursday at Red Bull Arena.
When asked about the visit, Henry immediately cut off the question and said it was not something he wanted to talk about. when pressed further about his reason for making the trip or his relationship with Muamba, he again refused to answer.
Some reporters walked away grumbling, upset over missing out on a good story. What they were actually missing was the real story.By Henry talking about the experience just a day later, he would have made himself the focus, not some relatively unknown player who happened to be a former teammate, and perhaps his visit would have been taken the wrong way.
There are hundreds of athletes in the world who make charitable appearances or visit hospitals out of the goodness of their own heart, and prefer it not be publicized.
Conversely, there are hundreds who wouldn’t make an appearance unless television stations and newspapers have been alerted.
Henry is not the type of player who is always seeking publicity. He can be warm and friendly at times, prickly other times and has more often than not been accommodating to the media in his nearly two years in Major League Soccer.
Considering players in Europe don’t talk to the media after games and rarely do after practice, Henry has adapted well to the American ways of reporters being present at practice and in the locker room after games.
But Henry keeps his private life to himself, which is one of the reasons he wanted to leave the fish bowl of European soccer for a more quiet existence in New York, as crazy as that sounds, and the relative anonymity of MLS.
Perhaps it’s a cultural thing. when Juan Pablo Angel was with the Red Bulls, he became one of the faces of MLS after a solid career in South America and Europe. Like Henry, he spoke English very well and seemed at ease when speaking in public or to a large group.
Long before he came to the United States, Angel was very committed to a charity in his native Colombia, a children’s organization that provides proper nutrition for infants, as well as clothing and safety from abuse for older kids.
It was a story that needed to be told, yet for well over a year Angel refused until he felt comfortable enough he wouldn’t be the centerpiece and the message would not get lost.
In the 10 days since the incident involving Muamba, there has been an outpouring of support throughout the soccer world.
Players have worn shirts expressing good thoughts and hope for a quick recovery and have dedicated goals they have scored to him.On Sunday, in the Red Bulls’ home opener against the Colorado Rapids, Red Bulls players marched out of the tunnel wearing T-shirts over their jerseys that read “get Well Soon Muamba” with his no. 6 on the back. they kept them on through the introductions and the national anthem.
When asked about it after the game, Henry kept his answer short.
“It was a mutual idea. the kit man, Fernando (Ruiz), talked to me (Saturday), and I was about to ask him the same thing,” he said. “It was a great coincidence. I thought and we thought it was the right thing to do at the time.”
Henry is rarely a man of few words, but sometimes the less you say reveals more about you as a man and a friend.
ETC. U.S. midfielder Sacha Kljestan scored his fourth goal in the Belgian league this season and fifth overall in Anderlecht’s 2-1 victory over Zulte-Waregem.
U.S. midfielder Robbie Rogers dressed for Leeds for the first time since sustaining a concussion in his debut Feb. 18. Rogers didn’t play, but Leeds beat Millwall, 1-0.
U.S. forward Herculez Gomez scored in his fourth straight Mexican league game when Santos Laguna beat Queretaro, 2-0, Saturday night.
U.S. midfielder DaMarcus Beasley scored his third goal of the season in Puebla’s 1-1 tie with Cruz Azul.
U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley was a part of both goals as Chievo Verona tied Siena, 1-1. Bradley had an assist with a corner kick but his header to his own goalkeeper was intercepted, which led to Siena’s goal.
U.S. forward Jozy Altidore came on at halftime and assisted on the goal in AZ Alkmaar’s 1-0 win over RKC Waalwijk.
U.S. defender Michael Parkhurst scored his first goal since October 2007 when he was with the New England Revolution, helping Nordsjaelland win, 2-0, in the Danish league.
Defender Josh Gatt, forced to stay in Norway rather than play with the U.S. Under-23 team in Olympic qualifying, scored in the 70th minute for Molde in a season-opening 2-1 win. Gatt had five goals for Molde last season.
U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra was red-carded Sunday in Rangers’ 3-2 victory over Celtic, which prevented Celtic from clinching the Scottish league title. three players, as well as Celtic coach Neil Lennon, were ejected, bringing the total to 19 ejections in the past 21 games between the Glasgow rivals.
The U.S. women’s national team plays Japan Sunday and Brazil two days later in the Kirin Challenge Cup in Japan.
Toronto FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei is expected to be out eight to 10 weeks after breaking his left leg in practice on Friday. Frei caught his leg in the grass on a wet field.
Toronto, which lost to the Earthquakes, 3-0, Saturday, has never won in San Jose, going 0-2-3.
The Portland Timbers will host Spanish club Valencia in a friendly May 23.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis earned his 65th career shutout and became the sixth MLS goalie with 1,000 career saves in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Portland.
Tottenham will play the Galaxy July 24 and the Red Bulls July 31 on a preseason tour of the U.S.
After heavy pressure, especially from European clubs, FIFA finally agreed to create an insurance policy for players injured on national team duty.
According to France Football magazine, Barcelona midfielder Lionel Messi is soccer’s highest annual earner, with $43.5 million ($15.8 million salary, $27.7 million in endorsements). Galaxy midfielder David Beckham is next with $41.5 million, followed by Real Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo with $38.5 million. Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho is the highest for coaches, with $19.5 million.
Sporting Lisbon will host the 2014 Champions League final, while the new Juventus stadium will be the site of the 2014 Europa League final.
Heavily indebted Greek club Panathinaikos had its board resign en masse on Friday. the club called an emergency general assembly for April 18 and is in urgent need of capital. Adding to its woes, Panathinaikos was fined $334,360 and docked three points for fan violence in the home game against Olympiakos March 18. It will also start next season with a two-point penalty.
Chile has been selected to host the 2015 Copa America.
The first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals between Toronto FC and Santos Laguna of Mexico will be played Wednesday in Toronto. the other semifinal, between Pumas and Monterrey, is also Wednesday.
The first legs of the European Champions League quarterfinals will be played today and Wednesday, while the first legs of the Europa League quarterfinals is set for Thursday.
When Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott scored in Arsenal’s 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday, it was the first time two Englishmen scored in the same game for Arsenal since 1997.
Manchester City’s 2-1 victory over Chelsea last week was its 20th straight win at home, an English Premier League record.
Chelsea backup goalkeeper Henrique Hilario, 36, signed a contract extension through next season.
Tottenham gained a point in its scoreless tie at Chelsea on Saturday, but has not won at Stamford Bridge since February 1990.
Rangers received five bids to buy the financially stricken club and a decision will be made by the end of the season.
Lionel Messi collected his 18th career hat trick in Barcelona’s 5-3 victory over Granada last week. He now has 154 goals in his past 153 games over three seasons. the three goals gave him 234 and broke Cesar Rodriguez’s club record of 232, which stood for 57 years. Well, actually, Rodriguez’s record of 235 stood for 57 years until Barcelona did some re-calculating the day before Messi set the record and found out Rodriguez was credited with four goals he didn’t score while failing to receive credit for one he did. On Saturday, Messi scored his 55th goal in all competitions in Barcelona’s 2-0 win Mallorca and became the first player in a top-level European league to score 55 goals in a season since Sporting Lisbon’s Mario Jardel in 2002.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo became the fastest player to reach 100 goals in the Spanish league with two in Saturday’s 5-1 rout of Real Sociedad. former Real Madrid great Ferenc Puskas held the record with 100 goals in 105 games. Ronaldo scored 101 in 92.
Malaga midfielder Jeremy Toulalan broke a bone in his left foot and will undergo surgery today. He will miss the rest of the season and could miss the Euros for France this summer.
A 2-0 victory over Inter Milan on Sunday enabled Juventus to tie a club record. It is unbeaten in 30 straight Serie a games stretching back to last season.
Juventus (4-3 aggregate over AC Milan) and Napoli (3-2 aggregate over Siena) advanced to the Italian Cup final, which will be played May 20. Juventus and Roma share the record with nine Italian Cup trophies.
Juventus defender Paolo de Ceglie signed a five-year contract extension through 2017.
German Denis, who leads Atalanta with 15 goals, will be sidelined three weeks with a muscle strain in his left calf.
Serie a handed out four suspensions: Fiorentina midfielder Alessio Cerci (kicking another player) and Palermo midfielder Nicolas Bertolo (head-butting) were banned three games, while Udinese forward Antonio Floro Flores (two games) and Lazio coach Edy Reja (one game) will sit out for protesting calls.
AC Milan forward Filippo Inzaghi will be out two to three weeks while defender Thiago Silva will be sidelined three to four weeks with right thigh injuries.
Lazio forward Miroslav Klose will be sidelined a month after injuring a left thigh muscle in training.
Hamburg, the only team never relegated from the Bundesliga, slipped into the relegation zone with seven games to play.
Kaiserslautern, in last place in the Bundesliga, fired coach Marco Kurz and hired former Bulgaria captain Krasimir Balakov, who had been coaching Hajduk Split in Croatia.
Borussia Dortmund beat Greuther Fuerth of the second division, 1-0 in extra time, to advance to the German Cup final. Bayern Munich also reached the May 12 final, beating Borussia Moenchengladbach on penalty kicks following a scoreless tie.
Stuttgart defender Khalid Boulahrouz broke the big toe on his left foot during training and will be sidelined four weeks.
Schalke forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has 22 goals in the Bundesliga this season and 40 in 38 games in all competitions.
Borussia Moenchengladbach had its 16-game home unbeaten streak come to an end with a 2-1 loss to Hoffenheim.
Quevilly and Gazelec Ajaccio, which play in the semiprofessional National league, three tiers below the first division, advanced to the French Cup semifinals with victories over first division teams. Quevilly beat Marseille, 3-2, while Gazelec Ajaccio eliminated Montpellier, 1-0. Rennes and Lyon also advanced.
Central Coast won the Australian league title on the last day of the season with a 2-1 victory on the road against Wellington.
Perth Glory striker Shane Smeltz became the leading scorer in Australian league history when his four goals Saturday gave him 62, two more than Melbourne Victory’s Archie Thompson.
Corinthians ended Palmeiras’ 21-game unbeaten streak with a 2-1 victory on Sunday.
Canada, on two goals by Christine Sinclair, beat Brazil, 2-1, in a women’s friendly Saturday in Foxborough, Mass.
Swiss club Servette says a judge has extended its reprieve from bankruptcy until April 19 to give the owner time to organize a rescue takeover so the club won’t disband.
Nikolai Kostov quit as coach of Levski Sofia despite the club being in third place in the Bulgarian league just three points out of first place.
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