There’s a new soccer hunk on the block. Meet Thierry Henry, who’s following in David Beckham‘s footsteps by leaving Europe to join the U.S. soccer league.
As the New York Red Bulls’ latest addition, Henry, 32, whose illustrious 16-year career includes playing for some of the world’s biggest clubs, including Barcelona and Arsenal, should have little trouble adjusting to his new home.
The French star says he loves visiting the Big Apple but his latest move isn’t just another vacation. “This marks an exciting new chapter in my career and life,” he says on the club’s Web site.
Who’s the guy who could give Becks some stiff competition on the field – and in the hotness department? Here are five things to know about Henry:
1. He’s an advertiser’s dream
With a dazzling smile and fit frame, the charming Henry was featured alongside Tiger Woods and tennis champion Roger Federer in Gillette’s razor adds. At one point, he was the ninth most marketable soccer player in the world and was a pitchman for Reebok.
2. He’s a dad
Henry married model Nicole Merry at an English castle in 2003 and the couple welcomed daughter Téa two years later. Merry, who hails from London, starred with the soccer stud in several TV ads for Renault Clio cars but the couple split in September 2007. He’s reportedly now dating Bosnian model Andrea Rajacic.
3. He’s friends with another famous athlete
During Eva Longoria Parker and Tony Parker’s July 2007 nuptials at Paris’s City Hall, Henry served as a witness and helped the couple celebrate during a week-long party.
4. Jay-Z’s a huge fan
Who could be more thrilled with Henry’s move than the Brooklyn-raised rapper? Calling him an “amazing player” in the April issue of Arsenal magazine, Jay-Z says it was Henry who drew him to his favorite English soccer team. “Still today [Arsenal plays] the beautiful football that Thierry did. I think he had a real long term effect on the team,” he said.
5. He’s good at his sport – really good
His gazelle-like legs helped him kick some stunning goals and earned him top scoring records during the English Premier League’s 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons. And, at just 20 years old, he helped France win the 1998 World Cup.