Tricheur. Imbroglione. Cheater. I don’t mind if we say it in French, Italian or English. It all translates the same way. The main reason I hold such disgust for these two world famous footballers is because they both have a knack for cheating. To go along with their scandalous behavior, I must also proclaim that each one is terribly overrated. I know people will read this and say, “Henry is one of the best strikers of all time”, and “De Rossi is a solid Azzurri national team player”. Blah Blah Blah. As far as, right here, right now, they both stink (in 2010). Henry now plays for the New York Red Bulls (laugh, sorry no disrespect to the MLS) and De Rossi hasn’t had a solid performance on Roma since about 2008. I tend to like classy footballers that set a positive example on and off the field; this does not include De Rossi personally phoning Brian McBride after he delivered a vicious facial elbow during the 2006 World Cup or Henry’s UNICEF campaigns (I think he just wants to market his image to make more money). So before my European readers start to chuck their foie gras and rigatoni toward this soccer loving American chap, I’ll provide you with more of an in-depth analysis as to why soccer fans should continue to ignore these sub-par players.
Thierry Henry. At one time, he was considered an idol for the French people. He grew up in the suburbs of Paris and is truly a rags to riches story. His parents were from Guadeloupe and Martinique and helped him to get recognized at the age of 13 after he literally perfected his “cheating” playing on the streets in his father’s shoes. I won’t deny that Henry had some good times at Arsenal in the early 2000s. However, let’s also acknowledge they type of quality this club continuously brings in as far as supporting talent to go along with a top class manager in Arsene Wenger who has been there since 1996. As a typical striker, Henry pouted a lot when he didn’t receive the ball and a large portion of his 226 goals were off of penalty kicks and point blank shots. He went to participate in two champions league finals and disappeared in each of them. That being said, he was also never a solid aerial player and failed to impress in most of his French national team duties. With Zinedine Zidane at the core, and Claude Makelele helping, a young Henry barely contributed to the 1998 World Cup team that won the big trophy (on home soil). The 2002 South Korea/Japan World Cup as well as the 2008 Euro Championships in Austria can both be viewed as disappointments for this once speedy superstar. Maybe he was too busy going to NBA games in San Antonio to watch his big buddy Tony Parker as he looked down Eva Longoria’s shirt (google that one)? The 2010 World Cup in South Africa proved to be a disaster for Les Bleus. An early group stage exit with Henry mostly watching from the sidelines was a fitting “au revoir” for the Mr. Gillette spokesman. Speaking of endorsements, does Henry have enough of them? I see his smiling mug everywhere. Some say it has taken away his focus over the years including the reason for which he failed to significantly contribute to one of the best teams in the history of club football, the 2008-09 Barca team, while in his 3 years playing for Catalonia. Monsieur Henry also has drawn world criticism for an alleged cheating fiasco with his British model wife which the Spanish press asserted was the primary reason for his disastrous first year there as he then went on to knock home only 35 goals in his total time there, with his first year seen as truly transitional (mostly coming off the bench). After almost every top European team turned him away, the Frenchman jumped across the pond and signed with the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. Thus far, in a few months in the MLS, he’s managed to net home only 2 goals and has been quite injured along the way including the way in which he managed to even severely inflict an injury on a visiting goalkeeper for no apparent reason ( taking a swipe on a dead ball resulting in seriously damaging the goalkeeper’s MCL). We’re still all waiting on that apology. I’ve read that Henry is often viewed as a “moody” teammate. Is that why he decided to use the “hand of god” one fateful day last November in a World Cup qualifying playoff against Ireland? The disgraceful “cradling in” of a last second goal against a tenacious Irish team was “a monumental slap in the face” to a proud nation that worked so diligently in its quest for South Africa, only to be let down by a selfish player, federation, and governing soccer body (Henry, France, and Fifa). I could talk about this controversy for another 10 pages, but I’ll leave you’ll with one word, “Cheater”.
Flip or Flop. Dive or Slide. Drama-filled screams and fake injuries. Italy is notorious for the above-mentioned behavior. Their men’s national team was savvy enough to utilize these techniques to win the 2006 World Cup. One of their so-called “ring leaders” is a 27 yr old, defensive midfielder named Daniele De Rossi, who plays his club ball for Roma. Whether he was giving elbow digs to opposing players (like Brian McBride of the US team) or falling to the ground crying like a little girl, he exhibited the same smug look. Again, this world-class footballer can best be classified as “a cheat and overrated”. As fans, it’s best to focus our attention on players that are better for the game. De Rossi (not to be confused with the American-Born Traitor Giuseppe Rossi who plays for Villarreal and the Azzurri) has scored an astonishing 10 goals for Italy in 7 years and a whopping 28 goals in 10 years with Roma. Wow, world class!!! He’s now touted as the next captain for the Italians as they look to replace Fabio Cannavaro who is set to retire from the International game in the immediate future. The direction of Italy’s team is truly in peril. I have not seen or heard of a solid performance in the last 2-3 years on either the International or Club pitch from De Rossi. He’s a “pretty boy” who has a crazy fan base that views him in this celestial manner even though the guy produces absolutely nothing. He was rumored to be close to signing with Arsenal last off-season but clearly Arsenal had some problems with his character. His work ethic and motivation are often highly questionable.
The traditional powerhouses of France and Italy have some rebuilding to do. They are both left with very young squads with considerable talent but are lacking in leadership. I’d say it’s a better time to support national teams that play the game right, such as, the Spanish and US squads. Most importantly, as you watch the MLS and Calcio leagues this season; remember to pick out players you like who are not prone to cheat. My hand of god is watching and it might bloody up your face if I see you in one of two red jerseys, the Red Bulls or Roma.
About the Author
Written by Timothy Ashe Jr.
Tim was born and raised in Downers Grove, IL (a suburb of Chicago). He graduated with a degree in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign and also holds University English Language Excellence certificates. He's fluent in Spanish and teaches both English and Spanish in his spare time. He's a Real Madrid and Chicago Fire aficionado and is partial towards the EPL and LFP. His hope is that the game of soccer can continue to grow in the U.S.A. and for our men's national team to eventually win the World Cup.