Thierry Henry is not the only Arsenal hero working on Belgium staff at World Cup

Thierry Henry is back in his old role as Belgium’s assistant manager for the World Cup in Qatar.

The legendary Frenchman returned to his role as Roberto Martinez’s second-in-command last year, having been part of the coaching staff that helped the Red Devils reach the 2018 semi-finals, before eventually bowing out to his home nation.

And Henry is joined by another former Arsenal player on the Belgium coaching staff. His ex-teammate Thomas Vermaelen is also present as another esteemed member of Martinez's backroom team.

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The 37-year-old retired from football in January, leaving Japanese outfit Vissel Kobe after two-and-a-half years. “I am looking forward to this challenge immensely,” Vermaelen said after taking up his new role for Belgium.

He was selected for the 2018 Russian World Cup as a player despite spending much of his time on the bench for Barcelona during that season.

Injuries and Vermaelen’s age had caught up with him, but he still managed to aid his side with substitute appearances against Brazil in the quarter-finals and England in the third-place play-off victory.

Vermaelen, like Henry, was at one point an Arsenal captain and even played alongside the iconic striker when he returned to the Emirates for one last dance in 2012. But the Belgian’s move to Catalonia in 2014 was a backwards shift and it is perhaps his international contributions that will be best remembered in the future.

The centre-back played 85 matches and netted twice for Belgium over a sensational international run spanning 15 years. And now Belgium boss Martinez is looking to harness his vast experience and respectful position among his current crop of players in what is the final attempt by the ‘Golden Generation’ to win silverware.

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Martinez said after appointing Vermaelen: “His experience during his exceptional career for club and the Red Devils will be a huge asset for our technical staff.”

Their opener against Canada in Group F will be followed by a clash with Morocco on Sunday, and then a difficult match-up with 2018 finalists Croatia next Thursday.


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