Henry dismisses Domenech threat reports

SAINT-PIERRE, Reunion - Thierry Henry has dismissed media reports that France coach Raymond Domenech threatened to leave him out of the World Cup if he refused to be a substitute.

The Barcelona player, his country's former captain and most prolific scorer, started the first two warm-up games on the bench and is expected to do the same at the June 11-July 11 finals.

Local media reported the controversial Domenech had met Henry before naming his squad and told him he would not go to South Africa if he did not accept being on the bench.

"I've been reading things that are totally unacceptable," the striker told reporters at his team's training camp on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion.

"I don't know where all this comes from. The coach did come to see me in Barcelona but only told me I would not start the matches and I accepted that."

The 32-year-old, who is no longer a Barcelona regular, said he had no problem about losing his starting place to Chelsea's Nicolas Anelka.

"There's a logic in football," Henry said. "Over the past four months I have not played that much. There's a player in front of me and that's Nico. I accept that."


The only player in this squad who was part of France's 1998 World Cup-winning team, although he did not play in the final, Henry said he accepted his new role as a substitute for the team he has graced for more than a decade.

"If you're a competitor and you love football you always want to play," said the man who has scored a record 51 goals from 120 appearances.

"Football is my passion but I respect the coach's decision and I'll do my very best to help the team."

Henry, who has often lifted France out of tight spots, also suffered from the controversy sparked by his handball in the playoff win over Ireland in November.

"We're not here to have a debate on whether Henry should play or not," he said. "That's up to the coach. He did not ask me anything. If I come on I'll give it my very best, full stop."

France have done little to suggest they might make an impact at the World Cup, making an early exit from Euro 2008 and frustrating their fans with mediocre performances since.

Henry, however, warned not to write them off.

"We were favourites in 2002 and went home without scoring a goal," he said. "In 2006 we were not favourites, started with two draws but went to the final.

"It's up to us to write our own history."

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