Today’s episode of the “Football Fun Police” is brought to you by Thierry Henry.
Apparently, the Arsenal and French national team legend hates fun, based on his comments following Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s late, game-winning goal against Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.
[ RECAPS: All of this week’s UCL action ]
Giving his post-game take on Sky Sports, Henry was extremely critical of the way Hernandez celebrated his 88th-minute winner (WATCH HERE), which Henry said looked “like he had just won the World Cup.” So, it’s not so much that Hernandez shouldn’t have celebrated, but more to do with the manner in which he celebrated?
Henry, on Sky Sports, from the Daily Mail:
“To be fair to him he doesn’t really play. He was given an opportunity tonight but we still don’t know whether he will play again. He had a couple of chances in the game. One on his left foot and then another on his right foot. But I can tell you, he needs to thank (Cristiano) Ronaldo tonight.”
“That is for me Ronaldo’s goal. There is two minutes to go, he didn’t want to take that chance because he knows Hernandez is in a better position so you have to play that ball.”
“What I don’t like is that he celebrates like he has just won the World Cup. It’s a tap in. Turn around and celebrate with Ronaldo. He knew he had to perform and he had a couple of chances to do it. Even the camera knew, the camera is on Ronaldo for a reason.”
I have to say, Henry is being a little harsh here, and that’s coming from someone who’s not usually first in line to defend or praise Hernandez. He’s started just seven games this season after being loaned out by Manchester United, and you have to say that when he’s been called upon by Real, he’s answered the call (six goals in 25 appearances, mostly as a late-game substitute).
To score a goal of that magnitude, putting Real into a Champions League semifinal and breaking the hearts of Atleti at the same time, must have meant everything to Hernandez in that moment. Following a tumultuous two seasons at Man United and Real — and a tough 87 minutes of missing chances — it’s easily the biggest goal of his still relatively young career.
Of course, Henry has a point with “he should be celebrating and/or thanking Ronaldo,” but in that moment, it’s pretty easy to see how any player in the world could lose sight of that theory. Surely Henry will have had a tough stretch in his career when scoring a particular goal meant everything to him and stopped the world from caving in around him.
It’s not often I’ll go against the word of Thierry Henry to side with Javier Hernandez, but go on, Chicharito, celebrate like you’ll never score again in your career. You get a free pass, but only just this once.