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Republic of Ireland to face France seven years on from Thierry Henry's handball

Published 23/06/2016

Ireland were left infuriated after Thierry Henry's handball proved decisive
Ireland were left infuriated after Thierry Henry's handball proved decisive

The Republic of Ireland and France will meet on Sunday for the first time since the night on which Thierry Henry cast himself in the role of villain for an entire nation.

Back in November 2009 at the Stade de France, Henry's handball was not spotted by the officials as William Gallas went on to score and in the process, deny Ireland their chance of a play-off route to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at a night which will live long in the memory of Ireland supporters.


Trailing 1-0 to Nicolas Anelka's first-leg goal at Croke Park, Ireland headed for St Denis determined not to let France have it their own way and reaped the rewards of their endeavour when skipper Robbie Keane gave them a first-half lead. That remained the score at 90 minutes and extra-time was required, but what was to follow caused outrage. Swedish referee Martin Hansson and his assistants failed to spot Henry controlling the ball with his hand before crossing for Gallas to slide home a 103rd-minute equaliser which proved decisive, and a dream had been shattered in the most cruel of fashions.


Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni: "I am not only disappointed, I am also sad. It is a bitter evening. It's a bitter situation. I would prefer to have gone out on penalties. Everybody saw the game. You know what happened."

Defender Richard Dunne: "He [Henry] admitted afterwards he handled it, but it doesn't make me feel any better because we are not going to the World Cup finals. We were cheated tonight."

Captain Robbie Keane: "They are all probably clapping hands, [UEFA President Michel] Platini sitting up there on the phone to [FIFA President] Sepp Blatter, probably texting each other, delighted with the result."

Defender Sean St Ledger: "I don't really know what went through his mind at the time. He is one of the best footballers in the whole wide world. When he retires, everyone will remember Thierry Henry - or maybe they will remember Thierry Henry for that now."


The repercussions of a dramatic night on the outskirts of Paris lasted long after Irish bitterness had subsided. It emerged last summer that the Football Association of Ireland, which had lodged a formal complaint with FIFA over the game and asked the governing body to consider inviting a 33rd team to the finals, had later struck a deal with then president Sepp Blatter which saw them handed a cheque for 5million Euros (around £3.6million) to avoid the possibility of a legal battle. The sum, which was to be used to help finance the development of the Aviva Stadium, was a loan which was due to be paid back if Ireland made it to the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. They did not and the debt was written off in December that year.

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