Brentford left-back, Rico Henry, remembers the period when he was spending a test in a number of clubs, when he was a child, and ending with refusing to include him on the pretext that he was too short, so that he could not be a football player, saying: “It was very frustrating, Especially when you’re so young, and you can’t do anything about it. But I knew that I would succeed in achieving my goals; I was very quick, and I knew that there were very good left-backs out there, like Jordi Alba. Nor were Marcelo and Ashley Cole tall. I always trusted myself, and I knew that there were other players playing in the same position as me, even though they were the same height as me.
The Brentford left-back, who measures 1.7m tall, laughs and says being rejected by Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion has given him extra motivation. “I was 11 or 12 years old, and teams would say I was too shy and small, but that gave me more motivation,” he says. You have to learn from this experience, never give up, or let discouragement take over, you have to keep going and keep working. Maybe these clubs rejected me because of the way I was playing at the time, because I wasn’t playing with the necessary strength and ferocity. But as I got older, I learned to be more aggressive in certain situations. It was difficult, but I overcame it and overcame it.”
Henry went on to become one of the best left-backs in the Premier League. Henry pointed out that teammate Ethan Pinnock and Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy shone at a late age. But Henry is still young and has plenty of room for improvement and development. Henry joined Walsall and started playing from lower levels. “It was the right move,” he says. You can see a lot of young players who join big clubs, but they only play a few minutes and they don’t progress in their footballing career. But when I was 18 years old I was playing with the first team.
Walsall’s manager was Dean Smith, who gave Henry the chance to play for the first team. Henry says about it: «The second division was very difficult and strong, and it depended on physical strength; So I learned a lot playing there. I was playing in the reserve team before then, and then Dean Smith came up to me after a game against West Bromwich Albion and told me I was going to start for the first team the next day. I was so nervous and excited. And I remember going home and telling my dad about it. I remember playing well in that match, and then continuing to play with the first team since then.
“It was exactly what I needed at the time,” he adds. Someone who believes in me and trusts in my abilities and potential. I knew Smith liked me when he brought me to Brentford, and that’s what you need when you’re a young player; A technical director who trusts you. Henry joined Brentford in 2016, when the team was playing in the First Division, and Henry knew this team would develop and reach greater heights.
Brentford knows how to maximize its finances. Brentford did not panic and worry when Smith left for Aston Villa in 2018, and signed with Thomas Frank, who achieved great results and led Brentford to promotion to the English Premier League in 2021, and built a young team with a great desire to win. Brentford’s level has improved dramatically after its promotion to the English Premier League, and has continued to present its strong levels this season. “They say the second season is the hardest, but we kept working together,” Henry says. The coach always asks us not to lose our passion or enthusiasm, and to continue working with full force.
And he adds, “We have presented great levels against the first six clubs in the table, but we have to improve even more against the lower-ranked clubs. We’ve drawn games that would have been easy to win; It is about being able to win some matches sometimes. Maybe we should know how to manage and control matches better. Maybe we should resort to some football tricks, like slowing down the pace of the game, or killing some time a bit. I saw an Arsenal game recently, and I saw Gabriel Magalhaes fall to the ground when the ball hit his head in order to calm the pace of the game. Things like that help you kill the game. It was a very smart move from him and we have to do everything we can to win.”
Henry is sharp and stubborn, but he knows he can still grow and reach even better levels. “The coach wants me to play more offensive roles, cross, score and create more goals, and I’m really trying to do that,” he says. Sometimes I create good goalscoring chances, but my teammates kick the ball into the net from the outside! But I have to send more crosses, and I have to improve and develop the finishing touch.”
Developing further in the final third of the field would certainly help Henry achieve his dream of joining the England national team. The player was very disappointed after not being called up to the final camp of the Three Lions, and he says about it: “I knew that I was being talked about well in the media. It’s going to be a very tough competition with Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell in front of me. I was a bit disappointed because I think I can play at this level. But I have to focus on playing for Brentford and keep working hard.
He adds, “One of my big dreams is to play at the international level. It has always been my dream to play for a club in the top six of the Premier League table. I haven’t achieved this goal yet, but I want to play in the European Championships.