The France legend believes the Bayern No.1 could be responsible for a new wave of shot-stoppers who are more active defensively
Thierry Henry has described Fifa Ballon d’Or nominee Manuel Neuer as a revolutionary for his style of play as a sweeper-keeper.
Neuer starred for Bayern Munich as they romped to Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal success last season and was one of the best players at the World Cup last summer as Germany enjoyed success in Brazil.
The shot-stopper’s efforts were so impressive that he finished third in Ballon d’Or voting behind Cristiano Ronaldo, who triumphed for the third time, and four-time winner Lionel Messi.
Former Arsenal and Barcelona striker Henry, who was a World Cup winner himself in 1998, believes Neuer will inspire a fresh generation of No.1s to be more involved in the defensive side of football, rather than staying static between the sticks.
“I think we definitely saw something new. Neuer changed what we perceive as the job of a goalkeeper,” he told Fifa.com.
“The role had already evolved when keepers were prohibited from picking up back-passes, but the person who has really revolutionised the position is Neuer.
“We’ve seen formations with a lot of people high up the pitch, but we’d never seen a goalkeeper play so far from his goal. Johan Cruyff’s Ajax side also had keepers who passed the ball a lot but never from level with the defenders.
“With Neuer, it’s like you always have an extra man. That change also owes much to the freedom he’s been given by his coach, but Neuer can do it as he’s a truly great goalkeeper.
“He always stays composed when making his passes – he’s like a genuine libero. That role really emerged in the 80s and 90s but now Neuer is the new libero. That’s what amazed everyone at that World Cup, and now all keepers will start to play like him.”