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Montreal Impact name Thierry Henry as new head coach

Monaco coach Thierry Henry watches his players before a Group A Champions League soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Monaco at the Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. Henry is the new head coach of the Montreal Impact. .
Monaco coach Thierry Henry watches his players before a Group A Champions League soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Monaco at the Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. Henry is the new head coach of the Montreal Impact. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manu Fernandez

The Montreal Impact named French soccer legend Thierry Henry as head coach of the Major League Soccer team on Thursday, signing the former striker to a two-year contract with an option for the 2022 season.

Henry will be formally introduced on Monday and will be at the helm of the team as of mid-January when training camp begins, the Impact said in a release.

“We are extremely happy to announce the nomination of this legend of the game,” said Impact president and CEO Kevin Gilmore. “Henry will bring a new energy to our club. He shares our vision to elevate this club and will help us achieve our goals on and off the field.

“He is a competitor and a leader who has proven himself at the highest level throughout his career. He now brings these qualities with him to Montreal, a place he wants to be.”

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READ MORE: Montreal Impact on the hunt for new head coach after Wilmer Cabrera’s contract expires

Henry, 42, is considered one of the best strikers in soccer history.

He represented France at the World Cup on four occasions, winning the tournament in his first appearance in 1998. He also won the Euro in 2000 and remains the country’s all-time leading scorer with 51 goals in 123 games.

A FIFA world player of the year finalist in 2003 and 2004, he reached the top of Arsenal’s scoring chart with 228 goals in all competitions. He won two Premier League championships, three FA Cups and played in a UEFA Champions League final with the team.

At FC Barcelona, Henry won La Liga in 2009 and 2010. He also helped the team win UEFA Champions League, Copa Del Rey and FIFA Club World Cup titles.

READ MORE: New Montreal Impact coach Wilmer Cabrera set for debut against Toronto

Henry spent four-plus seasons in MLS with the New York Red Bulls, scoring 51 goals and adding 42 assists in 122 games. He won the Supporters’ Shield in 2013 and was a four-time MLS all-star.

“It’s an honour to coach the Montreal Impact and return to MLS,” Henry said. “It’s a league I know well, in which I had some very nice moments. To be in Quebec, in Montreal, which has an enormous multicultural heritage, it’s extraordinary.

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“I’ve always kept an eye on the club and now I’m here.”

Henry retired in December 2014 and became an academy coach at Arsenal two months later.

He was named an assistant with the Belgian national team in 2016 and helped guide the squad to a third-place finish at last year’s World Cup. Henry most recently served as head coach with AS Monaco in Ligue 1.

“We are extremely happy with the arrival of Thierry Henry,” said Impact sporting director Oliver Renard. “Young and dynamic, he’s very familiar with MLS and meets the qualities we were looking for in our search. This nomination, two months before the start of camp in January, will give us a chance to build our squad with the man that will lead it.”

West Island soccer player on his new position with the Montreal Impact
West Island soccer player on his new position with the Montreal Impact

Henry succeeds Wilmer Cabrera in the position. The Impact announced last month that Cabrera’s contract had expired and would not be extended.

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Cabrera had replaced the fired Remi Garde in August. Montreal missed the playoffs with a 12-17-5 record.