Former France international and Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit has told the French website sports.fr that his country has been “hypocritical and cowardly” in their treatment of Thierry Henry. He also went on to suggest that France may have been better off being “overrun” by Germany.
Petit won the World Cup with France in 1998 and was a teammate of Henry at Arsenal from 1997 until 2000. When he was asked about the now-retired New York Red Bulls striker, Petit launched a surprising attack on the French media and its general public.
“In England, they’ve built a statue of Thierry,” he told the French website. “That means a lot. He is revered there. This bad image [in the French press] of Thierry Henry, it annoys me. What can we reproach Henry for? His handball against Ireland? He helped France qualify for the World Cup in South Africa. He has done nothing. France is hypocritical and cowardly. Sometimes I think that if we’d been overrun by the Germans, we’d be better run.”
The World Cup winner then went on to compare Henry’s treatment in the French press to that of Wayne Rooney’s in England.
“Wayne Rooney is not hated in England, even though he was not always right in his boots on the field and off,” Petit said. Thierry Henry never had a bad move on the pitch and there were no stories in his private life. He’s not hated but he’s certainly not loved. He got screwed by the French press after his handball and has since not spoken to the French media.”
“In France, he has no collusion with the press, so what? Perhaps because he was not smiling when he scored for Les Bleus. Well, that’s what I hate in this country.”
“I have great difficulty with the French, I have never seen such arrogant, smug, lying and hypocritical people.”
Petit made 85 appearances for Arsenal and scored nine goals before joining Barcelona in 2000. He started his club career with Monaco in 1988, and ultimately retired from football in 2004 while playing for Chelsea.
The France international earned 63 caps for his country and scored six goals; including the third goal in Les Bleus 3-0 victory over Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final.
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