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Henry considered quitting over handball fallout

  • Reuters, Tuesday, November 24, 2009 9 AM
Thierry Henry says he considered retiring from international soccer in the wake of the uproar surrounding his handball that helped set up France's goal against Ireland to clinch World Cup qualification. Henry, who was booed relentlessly even in Spain when he appeared for Barcelona at Athletic Bilbao last weekend, told French sports daily L'Equipe that the reaction to his transgression "all went too far."

"It's not the first time (that I thought about retiring)," Henry said. "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."

Henry issued a statement saying a replay would be the fairest solution only after FIFA said the result would stand. But he 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. The 32-year-old who has scored a French record 51 goals in 117 appearance said he was disappointed at the French soccer federation's lack of support: "The day after the match, and the day after that, I felt alone, really alone. It was only after I issued my statement that the people from the French federation got in touch."

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