Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thierry Henry Can Handle The Ball, But He Can't Handle The Truth

Since Ireland's exit from the World Cup at the "hand" of Thierry Henry, there have been many things said and done. But there are only two absolutes after this infamous day. Ireland are out, and Thierry Henry's star has fallen...

The incident made front page headlines across the world, radio airwaves from Dublin to Dubai were inundated with irate listeners, Internet campaigns sprouted everywhere, and Henry's wikipedia page was defaced to the Nth degree. But we'll come back to that later.
Irish football was entitled to be furious. They were more than entitled to launch their doomed bid to have FIFA sanction a replay, even though they must have known in their heart of hearts that it would never happen.
The appeal was dead in the water before it ever had a chance. Anyone who knows anything about football knows this, especially Henry.
From listening to radio shows and from reading posts on the Internet, I've come to the conclusion that Henry has gone down in many football fans estimation, especially Arsenal fans.
And now he knows this too.
His half-hearted attempt at offering consolation to Richard Dunne by sitting beside him silently in the middle of the Stade de France beggars belief. By this stage he obviously had time to digest his actions, which saw Ireland eliminated, and knew that there would be a media backlash on the horizon and that he had to move quickly to save his reputation.
In the immediate aftermath of the match, Henry gave an interview to French television. When asked if he cheated, and if he was ashamed, he scoffed and refused to answer.
Then he had a re-think and issued a terse statement.
I am not the ref. The ball hit my hand and, I will be honest, the ball hit my hand . It was a handball. 
"[Sebastien] Squillaci went to jump with two Irish players and then the next thing I know, the ball hit my arm , I played it, and the ref allowed it. It could have been better to do it in another way but like I said, I am not the ref."
Twice within the short statement Henry refers to the ball hitting his hand rather than the other way around.And then he chose to blame the referee for not seeing him cheat.
It was a feeble attempt to deflect some of the impending blows that were coming like a wave, his self serving comments swelled that wave into one of biblical proportions.
The next couple of days saw newspapers and sports programs across the world dissect the match, the incident, and indeed, Henry's self serving statement.
His character was being analysed as never before, every match he has ever played dissected, and then people began to see that they had been believing in a false God all along.
Henry has been held up as one of the greatest players ever to play the game. And yes, he is a phenomenal player, but that does not mean he is not of questionable character.
Over his career, Thierry Henry could never be regarded as a dirty player. He just wasn't the type, but he has been known to be dishonest and cheat to reach a means to an end, but those rare infringements have always been held for the biggest games.
Of course there have been small dives here and there, but everyone else does it so Thierry is except from indignation.
After the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in 2006, Henry was quoted as saying "Next time [he met Puyol] I'll learn to dive. Maybe I will, but I'm not a woman."
It is also worth noting that Henry slated Terje Hauge's display as referee after the match, despite agreeing that the ref was right to send Jens Lehmann off.
Soon afterwards he actually joined Puyol at Barcelona, guess money can paper over any crack?
But he did get his revenge some 30 days later by diving against Puyol during the World Cup match against Spain. The Barcelona defender received a yellow card after Henry feigned an injury to his face and Patrick Vieira scored a headed goal from the resulting free-kick to seal Spain's fate.
The point is that Henry is a great player, has had a great career, and has been held up on high by so many people that he has actually started believing their hype in him.
When all is said and done, he is human like the rest of us, makes mistakes like the rest of us, and is not perfect, just like the rest of us.
The FAI then launched their doomed bid. The FFF, quite rightly, refused. Then FIFA refused. Then last night Thierry came out with another pointless self serving statement.
"The fairest solution would be to replay the game but it is not in my control."
A wonderful gesture I'm sure you all agree. Except that it was issued hours after the door was bolted shut on the FAI.
Why not release this statement before both FIFA and the FFF had their say? He has had since Wednesday night to do so.
The real reason for this statement was to repair some of the damage that his reputation has suffered, specifically in England, where he was close to canonisation.
For once the English media all agreed upon one thing, Henry was a cheat. And every single one leaped to discredit their former hero. His reputation has been tarnished.
Ex-professional's such as Bixente Lizarazu, Emmanuel Petit, Lee Dixon, and Eric Cantona, as well as respected journalists like Graham Hunter, James Lawton, and Martin Lipton have all written on Henry's halo falling.
The simple truth is that this incident has sullied a great career. A great player, who hardly ever cheated..., has been reduced to the lowest form of player.
His reputation has diminished, as has the game of football.
When a player like Maradona or Henry or Roy Keane decide to cheat it tears at the very fabric of the game. For those so great to reduce themselves so low pains the rest of us to see it happen.
We bear the brunt of their folly, not they. They hardly care, they've reached their goal and we've cheered them to it.
Thierry Henry now has to face up to the truth of what he has done, and face the ramifications.
If he can handle the truths amongst the abuse he will undoubtedly take he will come out of it a better man.
For the moment though there is the inevitable backlash. Even his wikipedia page has had to be put under lock and key after some irate fan managed to edit it.
I think it's safe to say that Henry won't be going on holiday to the Emerald Isle any time soon, but the Irish are a resilient people.
They sang their hearts out on the streets of Paris on Wednesday night while the French hid in dark corners ashamed of their hollow victory.
Parisian's can count themselves lucky that it was the Irish they beat, because if it had been some other nation God only knows what would have happened to their beautiful city.
As it was there was only 60 cars burnt out in Paris that night.
All by Algerian fans, celebrating getting to the World Cup...
Just imagine the party the Irish would have had had they qualified...
But some Irishman did get a bit of a laugh from Thierry, at least for a few hours anyway.
As I said before Henry's reputation has diminished, he now has to face up to it and re-build it.
Here is the Wikipedia page before it was taken down, it shows how some people see our illustrious Henry...(click  here )

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