Thierry Henry has admitted that he contemplated retiring from international football after being overwhelmed by the furore over last week’s handball controversy.
The Frenchman dominated the headlines last week after he handled the ball before laying on for William Gallas to equalise against Ireland, a result which saw France progress to South Africa 2-1 on aggregate.
The FAI called on FIFA to replay the game and Henry echoed Irish sentiments and now the Barcelona says he contemplated quitting in the wake of the criticism.
“Oh yes,” he L’Equipe when quizzed on whether retiring from international football had crossed his mind.
“Friday, when it all went too far, I was very worked up.
“It’s not the first time (that I thought about retiring). After the 2006 World Cup, I thought about it, but it was too early. After Euro 2008, too, but it wasn’t the right moment. There was a generation that needed me.
“Despite everything that has just happened and the fact that I felt let down, I will not let my country down.
France’s record goalscorer also said he regretted the way he had celebrated the decisive goal.
“I shouldn’t have done that but, frankly, it was uncontrollable, after all we had been through,” he said.
“Indeed, I regret that. That is why after the game I went to shake hands with each Irish player. Then, we didn’t celebrate, even in the changing-room. People can’t say anything.
“After the game, I went to the press conference to say I did a handball. I could have missed it and not say a word. But I didn’t escape my responsibilities.”
Henry admits to feeling let down by the French Football Federation having been contacted by them only after he issued a statement to the press.
“The day after the match, and the day after that, I felt alone, really alone,” he added.
“It was only after I issued my statement that the people from the French Federation got in touch.
“We worked on my statement with my lawyer without knowing Fifa would make one the same day. I didn’t know it.”
At the end of the game the former Arsenal striker was seen consoling Richard Dunne, a player he encountered frequently during his time in England.
“After playing more than six years against Richard Dunne in England, I thought it was logical to go and say to him I was sorry,” added Henry.
“I lost a cup final in the same circumstances (against Liverpool), so I knew what he felt. That day, a Liverpool player (Stephane Henchoz) did a handball on the goal line but the referee didn’t see it.
“A lot of our players were disappointed about it, but no one did anything against the player. The least I could do was apologize. He accepted it.”