Shay Given opens up on Thierry Henry's infamous handball against Ireland
"It was like it was yesterday."
Shay Given opens up on Thierry Henry's infamous handball against Ireland in 2009 that cost his country a place in the 2010 World Cup finals.
Back in 2009, Ireland and France were at a stalemate in a Play-off for the World Cup in South Africa, and with everything all square on the scoreboard, it looked like we were heading for penalties.
Then, in a moment of madness, the French captain blatantly controlled the ball with his hand to prevent it from going out of play, and actually put it into a position where he could cross it, thus resulting in a goal that ended Ireland's dreams.
Given was in nets that day and had a better view of the incident than most. In this exclusive interview with SportsJOE in association with LeoVegas, the former Irish number one recalls the series of events.
"It was like it was yesterday. It doesn't really change that much, it's so fresh in my memory, the actual incident itself. It was such a blatant handball at the time that I just thought I was going to get the ball and take a free kick.
"Everyone in the stadium had seen it apart from the officials, but it was the consequences of the handball - we missed out on a World Cup.
"Then you watched them out there in South Africa, and they fell out with physios, I think the fitness coach chucked his whistle over the hedge at one point and stormed off - I don't know if it's karma or whatever, but it didn't go well for them when they got to the finals.
"For me personally, and for the country, it was a difficult one to take. Time goes by, life goes on, there are more important things in life - but at the same time, in that moment, it was a tough one for us all to get our heads around."
Given has since met Henry on a few occasions, but as you might expect, the handball isn't his choice of conversation.
"I've met Thierry a few times, he's not mentioned it too much to be honest. It's like the big elephant in the room - what that's that floating over there? - but I actually feel for Thierry.
"Obviously he's the one who handball'd it and people say he should have owned up to the referee, he should have done this, or should have done that, and I think it's easy to blame the officials, but it was that blatant.
"The referee may have been blocked by a player running across but the assistant referee or linesman, or whatever they call it nowadays, is looking straight across, and there's no reason why he should not have seen that.
"VAR has been involved since, and maybe that's one of the reasons that they brought it in because for a country to miss out on the World Cup finals because of something so blatant like that, VAR would have picked it up straight away, we would have had a free kick, and Thierry Henry would have had a yellow card probably."
- Shay Given names his starting Ireland goalkeeper for France match
- Shay Given talks about GAA, supporting Donegal and 'sweeper keepers'
- Brian Kerr optimistic for Ireland despite ominous French win