One day after France Football announced the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or, Thierry Henry pruned it further.
One from among Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Antoine Griezmann should win, he said. Henry followed that up by saying Ronaldo’s winning the Euro 2016 makes him an obvious first among equals.
“It’s been difficult to pick anyone apart from those two,” Henry said, here on Tuesday, referring to Messi and Ronaldo who’ve made the awards their own since 2007. “All four have had great seasons but Ronaldo’s also won the Euro and usually, when there is a big football event that year, the player who shines in that competition is chosen the world’s best,” he said.
“But I’ve played with Leo, so you know how I would feel if he wins.”
The Ballon d’Or would be chosen by journalists from 193 countries. Unlike from 2010, when the award was merged with Fifa and had votes from the national team captain and coach, this time only journalists would vote and Fifa will play no part.
Henry was here for a day as an ambassador for a sportswear company and spoke to the media at one of their stores on Tuesday.
An integral part of the team that won the Premiership unbeaten, Henry said an encore isn’t impossible because “we could do it. Juventus did it but in modern times, we got there first.”
Having started football to make his father happy, Henry is a Champions League winner with Barcelona and now an assistant to Roberto Martinez at Belgium. He said it would be premature to write off Jose Mourinho and Manchester United. “He is still trying to find the best 11, the best system,” said Henry.
When the conversation moved to Paul Pogba, Henry said the midfielder too deserves time. “Have faith in Pogba. I wasn’t successful in England from the start.”
With practiced ease of someone who has been asked this often, Henry said he doesn’t hold Zinedine Zidane responsible for France losing the 2006 World Cup final. “You win or lose as a team. (Marco) Materazzi won on that night but to me Zizou will always be a legend.” One who is on the right track to be a successful coach, having won the Champions League with Real on his first attempt, said Henry.