Player name: Thierry Daniel Henry
Clubs: Monaco, Juevntus, Arsenal, FC Barcelona, New York Red Bulls
Height: 6 ft 2 in
Thierry Henry is a French professional football coach and former player who is an assistant coach for the Belgium national team. He is considered one of the greatest strikers of all time and one of the greatest players in the history of the Premier League. In 2003 and 2004, Henry was the runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year, and was runner-up for the Ballon d'Or in the former year. He was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, the FWA Footballer of the Year three times, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year six consecutive times. He was also included in the FIFA FIFPro World XI once and the UEFA Team of the Year five times. He was one of the most commercially marketed footballers during the 2000s. Henry, along with Alan Shearer, was one of the inaugural inductees into the Premier League Hall of Fame in 2021.
Henry enjoyed a 20 year long career, making his professional debut with Monaco in 1994 before signing for defending Serie A champions Juventus. However, limited playing time, coupled with disagreements with the club's hierarchy, led to him signing for English Premier League club Arsenal for £11 million in 1999. Under long-time mentor and coach Arsène Wenger, Henry became a prolific striker and Arsenal's all-time leading scorer with 228 goals in all competitions. He won the Premier League Golden Boot a record four times, won two FA Cups and two Premier League titles with the club, including one during an unbeaten season dubbed The Invincibles. He spent his final two seasons with Arsenal as club captain, leading them to the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final. In June 2007, he transferred to FC Barcelona. In the 2008–09 season, Henry was a key part of the club's historic treble when they won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League. In 2010, he joined New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer (MLS), but returned to Arsenal on loan for two months in 2012, before retiring in 2014.
In this blog we will be reviewing one of the more interesting, and most modified pairs of match worn boots we have ever acquired... not the most ascetically pleasing pair ever, though. The above pair of Reebok Sprintfit Pro were match worn by the French king himself, Thierry Henry, during the back end of the 2007-08 season whilst playing for FC Barcelona in La Liga. Henry then proceeded to use this pair throughout the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament whilst representing France in the summer of 2008. This pair feature a whole list of modifications in which Reebok made for Henry, the boots are quite literally nothing like the retail variant in which they sold to the general public in commercial stores. Much like Gareth Bale's custom boots, deception levels are high with this one. Beautifully hand crafted nonetheless.
Above: Thierry Henry wearing this pair whilst playing for FC Barcelona during 4-1 defeat to rivals Real Madrid in the Clasico fixture in La Liga on May 07 2008, at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain. Henry made a total of 121 appearances for FCB, scoring 49 goals and making 27 assists in his 3 year spell at the club.
Where to start with these, then? Well, lets take a look at the upper. Henry's bespoke pair are constructed from a 100% leather upper which is incredibly soft throughout, until you get to the toe box... but more on that further down in this article. The retail version featured "Sprintfit Pro" branding above the single piece of the Reebok logo on the lateral side of the upper, however due to Henry's pair being leather throughout, they did not add this branding to his pair. The Reebok logos themselves have been stitched on top of the leather material and, most interestingly, the retail variant of this model featured only 1 Reebok logo - to the lateral side. The medial side was blank, with a couple of lines of stitching and that was about it. With Henry's pair they have added the same size Reebok logo as the lateral side to the medial side, then again when considering the amount they had to pay him to wear their brand (lets be honest, it would not have been cheap!) who can blame them for wanting a little extra logo exposure?
In the picture above we can see Henry wearing this pair during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg fixture between Manchester Unitted and FC Barcelona at Old Trafford on April 29 2008 in Manchester, England. Man UTD won the match and subsequently went onto play in the Final, with a slender 1-0 scoreline.
The tongues of the standard retail variant of this model were rather short and made of a synthetic material with a reflective/shiny finish. With Henry's pair however, much like the rest of the boot, they are made from an extremely soft leather with the "RBK" logos stitched rather than printed and are much larger in size when compared to it's retail equivilent. A notable point for the eagle-eyed among us, is that the logos are facing each other, whereas on the retail variant the logos both faced the same direction. A small point, but yet another difference separating them from the mass produced model. To the toe box area, as we can see in the picture above, also features additional lines of stitching which run right the way across each boot. In terms of the actual construction of the upper in this area of the boots, they feature a huge amount of reinforcement - almost to the point where they make you think they're steel toe caps, yes, *THAT* reinforced! This is an incredibly rare feature to find among professional player's boots as 9 times out of 10 they like the 'barefoot' feel, a term all of us in the football boot world have grown to know in modern times, what with uppers getting thinner and thinner. This made Henry's boots rather heavy, in fact this pair actually come in at a staggering 293 grams, which for a striker would be classed as uncharacteristic in the modern game.
In terms of goal-scoring awards, Henry was the European Golden Boot winner in 2004 and 2005 (sharing it with Villarreal's Diego Forlán in 2005). Henry was also the top goalscorer in the Premier League for a record four seasons (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006). In 2006, he became the first player to score more than 20 goals in the league for five consecutive seasons (2002 to 2006). With 175, Henry is currently sixth in the list of all-time Premier League goalscorers, behind Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney, Andy Cole, Sergio Agüero, and Frank Lampard. He held the record for most goals in the competition for one club, until it was broken by Rooney in 2016, and held the record for most goals by a foreign player in the competition until surpassed by Agüero in 2020. France's all-time record goalscorer was, in his prime in the mid 2000s, regarded by many coaches, footballers and journalists as one of the best players in the world. In November 2007, he was ranked 33rd on the Association of Football Statisticians' compendium for "Greatest Ever Footballers."
The interior of the boots features much the same lack of focus on weight-saving as the rest of their construction. Henry's pair have a totally custom interior liner made from a very soft black suede material which runs throughout, from heel to toe. Now, although the padding is incredibly thin, the comfort levels we can imagine would not be affected due to the sheer suppleness of that leather upper (if we exclude that toe box!). The heel area features a sleek, narrow design with the custom suede liner wrapping over the edges of the heel cup where it attaches to the leather. Typically the retail variant featured a white synthetic liner, not too different to any other typical retail boot of it's era.
Above: another angle of that interior liner. Here we get a better look at how it runs throughout the entirety of the inside of the boots, including the tongue itself. This pair also feature, like many of the elite level pro's boots, custom insole boards built in which are thicker and sturdier than what you'd find on a normal pair, in order to suit the players needs. If you look closely at the picture above, you'll notice that there are specific parts of the forefoot area which have been made softer than the rest of the insole board. These pressure points show just how specifically this pair have been made. The sleek and elegant design/construction of this pair really do represent what Henry's game was all about.
The vast majority of the world's elite level professional footballers use orthopaedic insoles in their footwear, and just like their boots these are usually made to suit their specific needs and requirements. Henry was no different, with his insoles being completely custom made just for him. Now, usually, when we receive match worn or issued boots the players tend to keep their insoles as they use them across multiple different pairs of boots, and even their day to day footwear such as trainers. This match worn pair of Henry's boots came with the insoles still inside, which is yet another unique feature of this terrific piece. The insoles are made by Reebok and feature the same black suede liner as the interior of the boots, with the underside featuring specific padding in both the forefoot and heel areas. Sometimes, pro players have third party companies bespoke make their insoles for them, such as Podoactiva, who make the insoles players like Gareth Bale & Dani Carvajal.
With this pair featuring no internal size labels whatsoever due to their bespoke nature, we have had to measure them ourselves and they come out to around a UK size 10.5 in length, but they are however much much narrower than any standard pair of boots. Typically Reebok made their elite sponsored players boots in Vietnam, players such as Iker Casillas & Ryan Giggs as well as Henry.