Thierry Henry reveals Ireland players' reaction when he told them 2009 handball was deliberate

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Certain actions on a football pitch live longer in the memory than others.

Whether positive or negative, most instances feature some form of controversy - and few recent examples can match what Thierry Henry did when France took on Ireland nine years ago today.

The former Arsenal striker handled the ball prior to setting up William Gallas’ decisive goal in the second leg of their 2010 World Cup qualification play-off at the Stade de France.

It put Les Bleus 2-1 up on aggregate, shattering the visitors’ dreams of making it to a fourth World Cup since their debut almost two decades earlier.

To nobody’s surprise, the Irish didn’t take kindly to being deprived of their place at South Africa 2010 in such a cruel manner.

Richard Dunne - who was part of the defence that did so well to keep France at bay over two legs - said at the time: "I think it was quite blatant that he cheated. The linesman was in line with the incident, it wasn’t even a hard decision to make.”

Ireland now haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 2002, so it’s understandable Henry is still asked to speak about it from time to time.

Upon reflecting on the infamous moment, the Monaco manager was quizzed about how his opponents reacted when he apologised to them after the final whistle.

Henry told Canal Plus, via the Mirror: “You are talking about people I spent so many times on the pitch with.

“I just said to them, ‘Yes, it was hand, I’m sorry.’ And you know what? They told me: ‘We don’t blame you.’

“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.”

French forward Thierry Henry (L) and Iri

Henry also compared the incident to a similar one in 2009 involving Lionel Messi disguising the use of his hand to ‘head’ the ball into the net.

He said: “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.”

Henry does raise a good point, but perhaps the respective fallout of each incident is what sees them treated differently.

Thierry Henry
France Football

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