PORTLAND – When New York Red Bull star Thierry Henry takes the field on Wednesday night against Bayern Munich — possibly his last MLS All-Star Game — he'll go up against two of the soccer players he admires the most on the world stage.
"If I had a son right now playing I’d say look at [Franck] Ribery and look at [Thomas] Muller," Henry told media at a Monday press conference. "What Ronaldo does and [Lionel] Messi they are just freaks. It’s true. Don’t try to copy those guys because they’re just freaks and that doesn’t happen often. But you can copy Franck Ribery and you can copy Thomas Muller.
"It’s funny how people don’t look at the game the way they should look at the game," continued Henry. "People, especially now the media, they love a guy with stepovers, tricks and things like that. But the game is what Thomas Muller is doing for me. That’s the game."
The 36-year-old Henry, who has wowed MLS fans with his flair and creativity, used the press conference to show his appreciation for those guys who play the game the way it should be played.
On top of the list was Ribery, who Henry believes should have won the award for the world's greatest player in 2013 after winning the Bundesliga, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup with Bayern Munich. Real Madrid's Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo came away with the award instead.
"Nowadays I find it to be annoying sometimes that people don’t give a lot of credit to guys that are unselfish," Henry said about his former teammate on the international level with France. "For me Franck represents that. He’s very unselfish on the field and tries to play for his team. Whenever he can pass the ball even when he can score he’ll try to pass it.
"Last year, for me, [Ribery] should’ve won the Golden Ball, basically because he won everything with Bayern and he was dominant," he continued. "He’s a team player and most of the time in our game we reward guys who are individual and that guy is not."
Make no mistake about it: Ribery is one of the stars in the world game. But Henry's biggest complaint is that players like Ribery and Muller are not elevated to the same superstar tier of the media darlings.
"If anyone had the record [Muller] has at the World Cup -- people talk about it, but they don’t talk about it the way they should," Henry said. "He defends. He attacks. He controls the ball when he has to control it. He reverses when he has to reverse. Finishes it when he has to finish. … Thomas Muller for me he does what the game asks him to do.
"I just like people who respect the game and it’s not always easy to do what the game is asking you to do," he said. "It sounds simple, but it’s one of the most difficult things.