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Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Thursday, 15 July 2010 17:16 UK

Thierry Henry calls end to France career

Thierry Henry
Henry scored a record 51 goals for Les Bleus

France striker Thierry Henry has retired from international football after a 13-year career.

The 32-year-old made the announcement a day after joining Major League side New York Red Bulls from Barcelona.

Henry said he was "fully committed" to the Major League side and did not want to travel regularly back to Europe to play for Les Bleus.

The 1998 World Cup winner is France's all-time record goalscorer with 51 goals in 123 games.

Speaking in New York on Thursday, Henry, who also won the European Championship with France in 2000, said he decided before this year's World Cup finals in South Africa that he would retire.

"I couldn't announce it before because that's the not type of thing you announce before a World Cup," he said.

He was twice used as a substitute in France's disastrous campaign, playing in the group matches against Uruguay and South Africa as the team lost two of their three matches and failed to reach the knockout stages of the competition.

"That was my last game against South Africa. Ironically, it was also my first game in the national team against South Africa," Henry added, referring to his debut in a 2-1 victory against South Africa in 1997.

The French squad went on strike and refused to train before the South Africa match after striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home for verbally abusing coach Raymond Domenech, who has since been replaced by Laurent Blanc.

Double 2010

But Henry insisted: "We still have a good team. I think the guys that are going to stay, they still are great players.

"If you see the guys playing individually in their [club] team, they're always doing great.

"But as you know, in a team sport, it's always a matter of having a great team. It's not only about individuals, and I think Laurent Blanc can do this."

Henry added that he did not wish to emulate England winger David Beckham, who has combined playing for a Major League team - LA Galaxy - with travelling back to Europe for international duty.

"I always want to be here [the United States] 100% and am fully committed to this cause and the organisation," he stated.

Henry achieved notoriety after France's World Cup play-off victory over the Republic of Ireland in November 2009 when he handled the ball twice in the build-up to his team's decisive extra-time goal by William Gallas.

The striker escaped punishment from Fifa, which said it had "no legal foundation" to deal with the case, and Fifa rejected a request from the Football Association of Ireland to have the match replayed.

"I think they [the Irish fans] will still have something, yeah, but that's the game," he said on Thursday.

"It was kind of weird, but that's the way the game is. I already talked a lot about what happened that day, and I made it clear it wasn't intentional."

Despite France's troubles during the 2010 World Cup finals, Henry said his time at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea was "my worst experience ever".

"As a group, we didn't even score one goal and we were the reigning world champion," he stated.

"And we bounced back and we went to the final of the World Cup in 2006. Obviously we didn't win it. It still hurts."

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see also
Henry leaves Barca for New York
14 Jul 10 |  Football
Henry & Toure to leave Barcelona
28 Jun 10 |  Europe
French government in finals probe
25 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Henry escapes ban over handball
18 Jan 10 |  World Cup 2010
France's World Cup qualifying highlights
03 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
Henry completes move to Barcelona
25 Jun 07 |  Europe

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