‘He wanted to show he was a nice guy and apologise… it was NONSENSE’: Richard Dunne accuses Thierry Henry of ‘showmanship’ for his disingenuous apology over infamous handball that denied Ireland a 2010 World Cup place
- France narrowly edged out Republic of Ireland in a 2010 World Cup play-off
- The game was controversial after a Thierry Henry handball went unpunished
- Former Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne reflected on the incident
Richard Dunne has slammed Thierry Henry for his ‘nonsense’ reaction after the former French striker’s infamous handball that stopped the Republic of Ireland from qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.
Back in 2009, Giovanni Trapattoni’s side faced France in a World Cup play-off to reach the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
With France holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg thanks to Nicolas Anelka, Robbie Keane had helped Ireland to win the second leg 1-0 and force extra time at the Stade de France.
However, with time running out, the game was decided by a Henry handball that wasn’t spotted by the match officials in the lead-up to William Gallas’s decisive goal.
This meant France drew the second leg 1-1 and progressed to the World Cup at the expense of Ireland by virtue of a 2-1 aggregate win.
Thierry Henry helped France edge out Republic of Ireland in a 2010 World Cup play-off after the ex-striker went unpunished despite handling the ball before William Gallas’s decisive goal
Ex-Ireland defender Richard Dunne slammed Henry for his reaction after France went through when he sat down next to him on the Stade de France pitch and tried to console him
And Dunne – who racked up 80 caps for Ireland from 2000-2013 – admitted that while he ‘understood’ Henry’s instincts to handle the ball, hit out at the way the Arsenal legend tried to console him post-game when he sat down next to him.
‘He felt regret and told me he had handballed it’, Dunne told L’Equipe.
‘I was thinking, “why are you telling me this?” Could you not have told the referee a few minutes ago?
‘It was a difficult moment for me because I was dejected from our elimination, and his admission made it even worse for me.’
Dunne went on to claim he wouldn’t have acted like Henry and revealed he had not spoken to him since.
He added: ‘Absolutely not (I wouldn’t have done the same thing). What Henry did at that moment was a bit of showmanship.
‘A way to show that he was a nice guy and that he wanted to apologise… It was nonsense.’
France went on to endure a disastrous time in South Africa with Raymond Domenech’s players going on strike, before they finished bottom of a group containing Uruguay, Mexico and the hosts.
Dunne also insisted France’s capitulation at the tournament under Raymond Domenech where players went on strike made missing out on the World Cup in South Africa even more painful
The World Cup play-off was level at 1-1 on aggregate in extra time before Henry’s handball
And for Dunne, France’s capitulation during the tournament made the pain of missing out so narrowly even worse.
He said: ‘When you qualify for a World Cup, the minimum you have to do is respect the tournament.
‘You got the impression that the French players were only thinking of themselves and didn’t realise how lucky they were to be in South Africa.’
The two sides meet again in Euro 2024 qualifying on Monday, with France fresh off a 4-0 thumping win against the Netherlands on Friday, while Ireland will hope to get their campaign off to a positive start in Dublin.