Thierry Henry received a frosty reception from thousands of Ireland fans as he appeared on the Aviva Stadium big screen during Saturday’s friendly clash against Belgium.

If you are unfamiliar with the reasons behind these jeers, then let me explain.

On November 18, 2009, during a World Cup play-off game between Ireland and France, the former Arsenal striker controlled the ball with his hand before setting up William Gallas to score the crucial winner in extra-time.

Gallas’ goal made it 2-1 on aggregate and Raymond Domenech’s side made it through, while Ireland’s hopes were dashed.

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Henry was widely criticised for his actions that day. In fact, 12 years on from the incident, the Frenchman was loudly booed by Ireland supporters during their 2-2 draw against Belgium on Saturday.

As you can see in the footage below, cameras panned towards Belgium’s assistant manager in the 24th minute.

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Last year, Henry revealed that he was forced to hire a bodyguard for his daughter after the infamous handball incident against Ireland.

“I was the devil,” Henry told the Robbie Fowler Podcast. “It’s OK. I accepted it. Am I proud of it? No! Do I get abused by the Irish fans sometimes? Yes, I do.

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“It’s hard to take because this is not the type of player I am but when you have a bad instinct or reaction, it’s difficult to explain. I can’t explain it because it happens.

“This is where it becomes difficult and I’m not saying this for people to say ‘Oh my God!’ but after that, the abuse that I got – I received letters and death threats.

“My daughter had to go to school with a bodyguard for two weeks because I was scared – ‘We know where you live.’

“I was in Barcelona, don’t get me wrong, but my daughter was still here [London].

“I’m not trying to make this sound better than what it was because it happened but the impact that it has on your family sometimes, this is when it becomes difficult.”

Henry, who admitted his handball to Ireland players after the full-time whistle that day, said it was a “reflex” action.

“You are talking about people I spent so many times on the pitch with,” he told Canal Plus in 2015. “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 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.”

Image credit: Alamy
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After the full-time whistle, Henry memorably sat next to former Manchester City defender Richard Dunne, who opened up about the moment in 2019.

“I don’t really think I understood that he (Henry) had done it at that stage, but then he came over and said ‘I handled it’.” Dunne said while speaking to the ‘In Focus’ podcast.

“I was like thinking, ‘what do you want me to do about it? You should have said that 20 minutes ago,’ I can’t see the benefit in someone coming over and saying ‘I handled it’.”

He added: “You played 120 minutes and put everything into the game, the last thing you want to do is then get into a fight or start scrapping people in the middle of Parc De France.

“I think it was Mick McCarthy who said I should have boxed him or something like that at the time. As soon as you box them it’s like ‘no, I shouldn’t have done that’.

“I don’t see the benefit in it. If it was the other way around, I think we would have done the same.”

Featured Image Credit: @nathanmurf/Twitter

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