Beckham backs under-fire Henry

LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham has defended ex-Arsenal forward Thierry Henry following the Frenchman’s blatant handball which controversially denied the Republic of Ireland a place at the World Cup Finals.

Henry admitted to handling the ball in the lead up to William Gallas’ decisive equaliser which broke Irish hearts and cruelly ended their dreams of reaching next summer’s showpiece.

The Barcelona striker has been branded a ‘cheat’ while the Irish FA have called for the game to be replayed.

However, England midfielder Beckham is adamant Henry would not have handled the ball intentionally.

“I honestly don’t think that Thierry meant it,” he told Sky Sports News.

“I know Thierry as a player and a person. He is a great person and a great player. I really don’t think that he meant it.

“It is a shame to see Ireland go out because they have such great fans and are so passionate.

“But these things happen in football. Whether it is right or wrong, I really don’t think that he meant it.”

Beckham also bemoaned the way that the former Highbury favourite has had his integrity questioned by pundits and players alike.

“I’ve had a few headlines in the past which have not been nice," he said.

“I don’t think Thierry is a cheat. There are good headlines out there and there are bad headlines.”

Beckham is hoping to appear in his fourth World Cup finals in 2010 and has had his own fair share of controversial moments throughout his illustrious career.

And the former England skipper admits he does not know what he would have done had he been in Henry’s position.

“Who knows in that situation? You are playing in a World Cup qualifier. It is such a heated, emotional moment that you don’t know what you are doing in games," he said.

“I have been involved in big games and tense situations and I have reacted to certain things.

“You look back and think, ‘wow, I was wrong to do that’.”