Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has hit out at critics for unfairly treating him for his infamous handball against Republic of Ireland, claiming Lionel Messi was branded as “a genius” for a similar incidence, while he feels as if he had “killed someone”.
The 37-year-old set-up William Gallas’ goal during the 2010 World Cup qualification play-off against the Republic of Ireland by controlling the ball with the aid of his hand; a goal which proved crucial in Les Bleus qualification and the Irish getting eliminated.
And despite accepting the misdemeanor, Henry was criticized worldwide for his poor sportsmanship spirit. The former New York Red Bulls forward nonetheless believes he was reviled distinctly, with former Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi escaping reprisal for his handball against Espanyol.
“You are talking about people I spent so many times on the pitch with,” he told Canal Plus.
“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 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.”
Lionel Messi scoring against Espanyol with his hand
The Gunners’ all-time top goal-scorer with 228 goals left Barcelona six months aftermath of the incident, but has rubbished claims of the move being swayed due the criticism he received in his country.
“I have always wanted to go there [to the United States],” the Arsenal icon added.
“Anyone who knows me would tell you that. Also, to escape what? To escape who? I wanted to go as soon as 2009, but I didn’t because I kept playing with the national team. That is total rubbish.”
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