Duff: Henry’s handball? If it was down the other end I’d have done it, too

Damien Duff has told FourFourTwo he holds no grudge with Thierry Henry over the handball that helped deny the Republic of Ireland a place at the 2010 World Cup.

The Boys in Green’s play-off tie with France had gone into extra time after Nicolas Anelka’s first-leg goal in Dublin was cancelled out by Robbie Keane’s in Paris.

But controversy struck in the 103rd minute at the Stade de France when officials failed to spot that Henry had controlled the ball with his hand before setting up William Gallas to score the goal that sent les Bleus to South Africa.

Irish cries of injustice fell on deaf ears – FIFA had already come in for criticism over their late decision to seed the play-off draw – meaning Duff was denied the chance to feature at a second World Cup, having played in every game at the 2002 event.

It was incredible in this day and age that someone could get away with it, but if it was down the other end I’d have done it, too. He was playing the game, so I’ve no problem with Thierry Henry. But I was distraught

Speaking exclusively in the April 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, Duff says the defeat was the toughest he ever experienced, but admits that had the chance to score a similar goal presented itself, he’d have taken it.

“It was incredible in this day and age that someone could get away with it, but if it was down the other end I’d have done it, too,” he says. “He was playing the game, so I’ve no problem with Thierry Henry. But I was distraught. After 2002 I always thought I’d go to another World Cup, but I never did.”

Portraits: Mark Duggan

Duff called time on his playing days at the end of 2015 following a nine-game spell with Shamrock Rovers, with his wages reportedly going to charity as donations. He has recently been appointed the club’s under-15 coach, and will combine the new academy role with his responsibilities as part of the first team’s coaching staff.

“I’ve been having my UEFA A Licence assessment and I also need to get my Pro badge, although I am still finding my feet about what I want to do with my life,” says Duff. “I’ve been working with the Republic of Ireland Under-15s and I was with Shamrock U16s. Now I’m with their first team, so we’ll see where it all goes.”

Read the full interview with Damien Duff in the April 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. Featuring some of the best young players in the world, we talk to Dele Alli about fame, his unlimited potential and his pooch Hugo, sing Happy Birthday to Bayern Munich whiz kid Joshua Kimmich and check in with Borussia Dortmund youngsters Christian Pulisic, Julian Weigl, Raphael Guerreiro, Ousmane Dembele and Alexander Isak. Plus, we speak to Ademola Lookman about making the jump from League One Charlton to Premier League Everton, profile 18-year-old Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma – who’s already the heir to namesake Buffon as Italy’s No.1 – and wonder whether Ravel Morrison will ever fulfil his potential. Elsewhere, Newcastle Enfield entertain Sunderland RCA in the ‘other Tyne-Wear derby’, Colchester keeper Dean Brill reveals the unglamorous reality of a deadline-day transfer and we celebrate outfielders going in goal. Order it now, then subscribe!