William Gallas has reignited the storm around Thierry Henry’s ‘Hand of Gaul’ handball in the 2010 World Cup qualifying play-offs, stating that an Irish player would have acted the same had he scored a goal in similar circumstances.
Gallas, speaking before France take on Ukraine in Friday’s World Cup play-off, claimed that the pressure in the play-off match was greater than in the World Cup final.
“I believe it’s even worse than the final because you know that if you miss out, you’ll have to wait another four years before you can even hope to play in another World Cup match,” he said.
Gallas scored the goal that immediately followed Henry’s illegal intervention, though the media-shy centre-back has rarely spoken about the events of November 18, 2009.
He has finally broken his silence, speaking to France Football magazine and admitting Henry overshadowed the most important goal of his career.
“I’ve never been one to promote myself and I was not upset or frustrated to remain in the shadows,” he said. “But it’s true that I had scored the most important goal of my career and I felt that I had taken part in a national tragedy. It (the reaction) was totally disproportionate.
“We had to qualify for the World Cup and we were all treated like cheats! I even heard a pundit say he was ashamed to see France go to the World Cup in those conditions... “Football is an industry of contradictions, and I think that many people used this example as a way to get at (France coach Raymond) Domenech.
“Would I have confessed to the referee (if I was Henry)?
“Let’s not be a hypocrite about it: there is no room to have that type of attitude when you are playing at the top level.
“Do you really think that if an Irish player had handled the ball in a goal that took them to the World Cup, he would have gone to the referee to get him to disallow it?
“You may want to dream (it’s possible) but not in this situation.
“The pressure is simply too great.”
Gallas, 36, has not played a match for seven months (his last game was Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Basel in the Europa League) but has just signed for Australian side Perth Glory. “It did me good to spend some time away from football,” he continued. “I know I can’t play 50 games a season any more but 20 games, no problem. Australia is a big jump into the unknown for me, but I’m also going to discover a new and exciting country.”
Gallas could make his debut on November 15 against Adelaide United.
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