Thierry Henry’s appointment at Monaco comes with expectations heightened by more than just his stellar achievements on the pitch.
The 41-year-old Arsenal great has returned to the club that gave him his start in professional football and is seeking to join an illustrious group of fellow 1998 World Cup winners to have successfully transitioned into coaching.
Four members of that France squad have already combined for six top-division titles, three Champions League triumphs and a World Cup in their post-playing careers.
Others have enjoyed more limited success – Bernard Lama and Lionel Charbonnier are unlikely to be widely remembered for their coaching achievements – but Henry will certainly hope to match up to the men below…
Henry has surely circled December 8 in his diary as a date to look forward to. It is when his Monaco side will face a much-anticipated meeting with former Arsenal team-mate and now Nice boss Patrick Vieira.
Vieira has won three of nine Ligue 1 fixtures since securing his first European post in June, having established himself as a rising coaching talent across two and a half seasons at New York City in MLS. Their recent form has certainly been more encouraging than their start to 2018-19, in which they managed one point and one goal from three games.
Two decades after captaining France to ultimate glory on home soil, Didier Deschamps cemented his place in French football history by studiously leading Les Bleus to a second World Cup win at Russia 2018.
It serves as a good omen for Henry that Deschamps commenced the second chapter of his footballing life with Monaco, reaching the Champions League final in 2004, before spells at Juventus and Marseille prepared him for the top job.
Deschamps’ predecessor at the helm of the national team was the unlikely extra-time hero of the last-16 win over Paraguay in 1998: Laurent Blanc.
The ex-Barcelona and Manchester United defender, a Ligue 1 winner with Bordeaux in 2009 during his first head coach role, inherited the France job from Raymond Domenech in 2010, only to step down after a quarter-final exit at Euro 2012.
Three successive Ligue 1 titles – which formed part of two domestic quadruples – followed at Paris Saint-Germain, yet Blanc has curiously not been employed since vacating the role over two years ago.
Henry might well be placing a call to this former France superstar for insights into succeeding as a first-time coach.
None have done it better than Zinedine Zidane, who stepped into the Real Madrid cauldron in 2016, sensationally won three straight Champions League titles and nine trophies in total, and decided in suitably enigmatic fashion to call it quits in May this year.