Crestfallen Henry drops hint on Arsenal future

May 18, 2006

Thierry Henry teased Arsenal fans with a hint he may stay at the club after their Champions League final heartbreak.

Henry spoke to players, club officials and supporters over the intercom on the team's flight back to London from Paris.

He expressed his disappointment at the 2-1 defeat to Barcelona, thanked the team for their efforts and urged them to respond with character.

Henry, 28, said: 'We must pick ourselves up and make sure we come back stronger next year.'

The Arsenal captain stopped short of saying he will definitely sign the new four-year contract which has been on the table for weeks.

It would have been the perfect way to lift the club after they surrendered a 1-0 lead by conceding two goals in the last 14 minutes of the final.

Sol Campbell headed Arsenal into a first-half lead in the Stade de France but the Gunners had keeper Jens Lehmann sent off for a foul on Samuel Eto'o in the 18th minute.

Arsene Wenger's team fought hard but wilted.

Eto'o equalised in the 76th minute before Barca substitute Juliano Belletti grabbed a late winner.

Henry, wanted by victors the Spanish champions, insists he will make a decision on his future before the World Cup finals.

Wenger said: 'I will try to talk to him because we have to prepare for next season.

'We have many young players in our team. We have a big future as a big team but we need Thierry Henry to achieve that.

'He has such an influence on our side and can help us become a major force in the world.

'He said he would sort it out before the World Cup and there's not long to wait now.'

Asked directly if Henry will leave the club, Wenger said: 'I don't know. I don't think so.'

Henry took time to shake hands with all his crestfallen team-mates after the final whistle.

He also spent time in deep conversation with Barcelona pair Eto'o and Ludovic Giuly as the players waited to receive their medals.

Eto'o said: 'It was our private little thing but I told him we will talk on the phone. I will call him. We are friends.'

Wenger and Henry both criticised referee Terje Hauge and his linesmen because they thought Eto'o's goal was offside.

Henry said: 'I don't know if the referee was wearing a Barcelona shirt. If the referee did not want us to win he should have said so from the off.

'Some of the calls were strange. I believe the referee did not do his job. I would have liked to have seen a proper referee.'