On August 17, 1977, a legend was born.
On July 21, 2010, that legend first graced an MLS pitch. What a stint at New York Red Bulls it was.
Thierry Henry turns 41 years old today, which is as good an excuse as any to saunter down memory lane to rehash just how good Henry was with the Red Bulls.
Henry signed a multi-year deal with New York, becoming their second Designated Player in July of 2010 and spent four-and-a-half glorious years with the club. While he never was able to lift MLS Cup, Henry delivered the 2013 Supporters' Shield, was a four-time all-star and three-time member of MLS Best XI.
From 2010-2014, Henry scored 51 goals and added 41 assists, including partnering Bradley Wright-Phillips in 2014 when the Englishman tied the MLS single-season scoring record.
As impressive Henry's stats may be, the numbers don't come close to encapsulating the true essence of his greatness. Henry was an artist; his combination of skill, intellect, productivity, competitiveness and panache is indefinable. He expertly balanced the tightrope between entertainer and winner.
Outside of the consistent excellence, Henry will be most remembered for the breathtaking moments he was regularly responsible for. Every time the ball arrived at his gifted feet, there was an air of anticipation. Be it at Red Bull Arena, any stadium he visited or in front of our TV screens, there was always the strong hint that something magical was around the corner. Henry truly was one of a kind.
MLS and Red Bulls fans obviously aren't alone in experiencing this phenomenon. His playing career was born at Monaco, he became one of the world's greatest players at Arsenal and stayed at that impossible level at Barcelona. Supporters of those clubs, as well as the France national team, understand completely the ineffable, abstract ability Henry had to compliment his definable qualities.
With the Red Bulls, just like he had for every other club he called home, Henry scored every goal imaginable: clinical finishes with both feet, rockets into the top corner, wavy dribbling runs, back post chips, acrobatic overhead kicks, free kicks and even an olimpico.
He scored game-tying goals and game-winning goals. He was impossibly unselfish for a goalscorer of his pedigree.
Since Henry retired, a lot has changed both in the league and in Henry's life. MLS is stronger than ever, in part because Henry helped grow the league. His old club still has a familiar face or two, but they have changed gears in their player recruitment strategy. Gone are the global stars like Henry, Tim Cahill and Rafa Marquez; in are the equally exciting youngsters like Kaku, Tyler Adams and Aaron Long.
Henry has nailed his transition into retirement, as he worked to get his coaching badges while adding thought-provoking analysis with Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. After earning those badges, Henry was an assistant coach for the Belgium national team as they finished third at the World Cup.
As Henry takes his infallible soccer brain from the pitch to the dugout, the legend will soon get his first taste of head coaching work. Henry has stepped away from his TV duties to focus on coaching. Perhaps one day his head coaching career will bring him back to where his playing days ended: here in MLS.
Happy birthday, Titi.