Andries Jonker says he’s been impressed by Thierry Henry’s commitment to educating Arsenal’s youngsters noting the Frenchman is going above and beyond what is required to acquire his UEFA coaching badges.
The Gunners record goalscorer has been working at London Colney since the summer and was in the dugout on Tuesday alongside fellow coach Ryan Garry to watch Alex Iwobi net a brace for the under-19s that downed Bayern Munich in the UEFA Youth League.
After the match Jonker, who watched on with pride as the Academy side made it three wins out of three in Europe this season, spoke to the Guardian’s Amy Lawrence about Henry’s formative steps as a trainer.
“Thierry’s own wish is to be at Arsenal five, six, seven days a week,” said the Dutch Academy head.
“It’s his own ambition to invest in his own future as a coach. What I am recognising is a guy who had a brilliant career as a player that is able to transfer his knowledge and experience to the boys. And the most important thing is he is willing to do it.
“That’s why he is very welcome with us and that’s why I invited him to be with this staff, to get experience as a coach and to be on the other side.
“He is doing much more than he is supposed to do in order to get his coaching badge. It’s his wish, his desire. We didn’t have to ask anything. It was his request to Wenger: ‘I’d like to be in the academy, is there any possibility? I just want to help.’
“I started to work with him and found out how committed he is. He is really, really motivated to developing himself as a coach.
“He is open, he is internationally orientated, and he is a really good guy. Thierry is young, Ryan Garry, Jason Brown – I have very young staff. I let them do many things and I try to give them feedback.”
Jonker, who is in his second year at Arsenal, also took the time to big up the crop of youngsters coming through the ranks.
“We are very aware we have fantastic players in this age group,” he told Arsenal Player. ”We had a couple of players playing in the Under-17 World Cup [Kaylen Hinds, Chris Willock & Jeff Reine-Adelaide] so we know we have a good team.
“Academy work is the work of years and years so I’m not the one who has done this I’m just trying to help them make steps. I think at the moment with this age group we have a really good group.
“You can see quite well how many players we have. One 15-year-old boy [Reiss Nelson] up front and nobody is seeing the difference. We have good players who can handle this level and that is a good feeling.”
Visit The Guardian for Amy’s full piece, including how teenager Alex Iwobi is taking on Henry’s advice.