THROWBACK TUESDAYS: THIERRY HENRY VS IRELAND
Thierry Henry was an elegant player that oozed class, the French icon was a captivating figure to watch on a football pitch and gained the admiration of many neutrals across the continent.
He was best known for his time in the Premier League at Arsenal under fellow countryman Arsene Wenger, where Henry became their all-time record goalscorer with 228 goals. The frightening forward is now perceived to be one of the best strikers to ever grace the English game.
Henry, having now retired from playing, is recognized as one of the game's good guys, but i'm not sure how that label would go down with the Irish. In 2009, Henry single handedly, no pun intended, cheated a whole nation to benefit his own.
France hosted the Republic of Ireland in the second-leg of an international playoff that carried huge weight, whoever came out victorious would be on the plane to South Africa to play in the 2010 World Cup, whilst the loser would be viewing the tournament from the comfort of their own sofa.
With Ireland digging deep they managed to level the score on aggregate, as Robbie Keane swept past Hugo Lloris in the 33rd minute to give the away side a surprise lead and set a dream in motion. The Irish then put up an immense display to create some more chances of their own in the second half, whilst defending astutely and seeing the game out through the 90 minutes.
This is where the luck of the Irish certainly faded away. In the first half of extra-time France had a free kick that was pumped into a loaded 16 yard box, the ball managed to find its way to the back-post, where Henry was lurking. In an attempt to keep the ball in play the striker stuck out his left arm and controlled it, he then touched it a second time to make sure he had the ball under his control and then laid it on a plate, by surprisingly using his foot this time, to his partner in crime William Gallas, who routinely diverted home.
Whilst the French players and fans were celebrating the goal that coincidentally sent them to the World Cup, the Irish players were surrounding the referee like sharks. Shay Given, the Irish goalkeeper, was the most vocal, he couldn't believe what he was witnessing and was in hysterics.
It was possibly the cruelest way for them to be dumped out of a competition that would have meant so much to a nation deprived of major tournament appearances.
Although Henry is, and always will be known as one of the good guys, this incident will never cease to evaporate from the minds of the Irish.