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Henry handball storm

Thierry Henry considered quitting over handball outcry

November 23, 2009
By Soccernet staff

Thierry Henry has claimed that the vitriolic response to his handball against Republic of Ireland led him to consider his future at international level.

Thierry Henry
GettyImagesThe Thierry Henry handball has brought the issue into sharper focus

Henry was widely criticised last week when his clear handling of the ball allowed the striker to set up William Gallas for the goal that took France to the World Cup finals at the expense of Giovanni Trapattoni's side.

Unflattering comparisons were drawn between Henry and Diego Maradona, who famously produced his 'Hand of God' moment against England at the 1986 World Cup, while commentators speculated whether his legacy would be forever sullied.

Henry - who issued a statement on Friday saying a replay would be the fairest way to settle the row, after FIFA had ruled out such a scenario - feels that the French Football Federation (FFF) did not offer him enough support and considered exiling himself from the finals following outcry across Europe.

"Oh yes," Henry told L'Equipe. "Friday, when it all went too far, I was very worked up. It's not the first time (that I thought about retiring).

"After the 2006 World Cup, I thought about it, but it was too early. After Euro 2008, too, but it wasn't the right moment. There was a generation that needed me.

"Despite everything that has just happened and the fact that I felt let down, I will not let my country down.

"The day after the match, and the day after that, I felt alone, really alone. It was only after I issued my statement that the people from the French Federation got in touch."

Henry did, however, concede that he should not have celebrated the goal so wildly as Ireland's hopes of a famous result in the play-offs were dashed in such controversial fashion. He said: "I shouldn't have done that but, frankly, it was uncontrollable, after all we had been through."

After Henry admitted a replay would be the fairest way to settle the game, Ireland captain Robbie Keane praised the striker and called on the FFF to make their own representations to FIFA. However, they refused to do so and the result stands.

Henry insists that his support for a replay existed before he learnt that FIFA had ruled out the possibility of staging another game and denies that his statement was merely an exercise in PR.

The striker said: "We worked on this release with my lawyer without knowledge that the international federation would meet the same day on the subject."