Thierry Henry, who became a pantomime villain in Ireland for his notorious hand ball during France’s World Cup play-off game, has hit out at his critics five years after the event, reported the Irish Examiner.
The Arsenal legend used his hand to control the ball during a clash with the Republic of Ireland back in 2010, before sliding the ball across the penalty area to set up international teammate William Gallas for the winning goal.
Both the Irish public and media were left furious, and Henry was heavily criticised for the part he played in Eire’s elimination.
The player-turned-pundit has defended himself recently, however, claiming there are definite double standards in the world of football.
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He has spoken to members of the Ireland team and staff about the incident, and insists they bear no ill will towards him. While not ideal, it is part of the game, and his opponents understand it.
Speaking on French television, Henry was quoted as saying: “You’re talking about people I spent so many times on the pitch with! I just said them, ‘Yes, it was hand, I’m sorry.’ And you know what? They told me: ‘We don’t blame you.’
“I saw Liam Brady, the Arsenal legend, and he asked me: ‘Did you touch it with your hand?’ And I answered, ‘Yes, it was my hand.’ I spoke to the press that night. I could have ignored them but I didn’t. I spoke honestly. It was a reflex. A reflex by a competitor, just like when you reach out for the ball on the line when your goalkeeper is beaten.
“When I see Messi scoring against Espanyol, diving to touch the ball with his hand, people say, ‘What a genius, now he is closer than ever to Maradona.’ But when it was me, it was like I had killed someone.”
He has a point, as there are certainly some players who seems immune to criticism – while others can’t escape it.
Henry certainly cannot be counted among players like Mesut Özil, who is berated by the media no matter how he performs. But the media can be extremely fickle, and even legends like Henry are not immune.