Given - I feel cheated
Shay Given believes he may have been cheated out of his last chance to play at a World Cup by Thierry Henry.
Last Updated: 20/11/09 8:53am
Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given believes he may have been cheated out of his last chance to play at a World Cup by Thierry Henry.
Ireland's World Cup dream was cruelly crushed in Paris on Wednesday night as William Gallas' extra-time goal secured France a 2-1 aggregate success.
However, Henry's handball in the build-up to the decisive goal has prompted impassioned calls for Fifa to sanction a replay of the second leg of the play-off.
Given is convinced Henry cheated to win the tie for Les Bleus and the 33-year-old fears a chance to appear at a second World Cup may never materialise.
"It could be the last time, it could be," said Given. "I don't know what's around the corner, I don't know if I will make another one, and that makes it even more heart-breaking.
"I have only played in one and we were the better team and deserved to go to the World Cup. But we are not going, so it is hard to take.
"I don't know if he [the referee] spoke to the fourth official or the linesman or someone. It was so blatant and we were so strongly protesting because we just felt somebody must have seen it, it was so blatant.
"How he didn't see it was beyond belief - maybe he did see it, I don't know.
"The seeding thing was bad enough, but then to go out of a World Cup like this is extremely hard to take.
"We do feel as if we have been cheated, not to go to the World Cup finals.
"He [Henry] cheated to win the game. I don't often say that, but that's how it was.
"He clearly cheated and they won the game from that."
Henry initially indicated the ball had hit his chest, exactly the view taken by Swedish referee Martin Hansson, although Given greeted the suggestion with a snort of derision.
He said: "I have seen the replays - he stopped it and then he pulled it in again.
"You saw it at the time - I don't know if you have seen my reaction, but it was so blatant, it wasn't even close to his chest or anything.
"The ref tried to say it was his chest - it was nowhere near his chest. It was disgusting.
"It's a disgrace, to be honest. How the ref or the linesman can't see it is absolutely ridiculous.
"I never normally have a go at referees or linesmen, but it is so blatant, it's disgusting.
"He handballed it twice - he stopped it and then pulled it back in. It's remarkable.
"We feel cheated by both Henry and the officials. It's disgusting.
"We were the better team and we are going home with nothing. In a few weeks, Uefa and (Michel) Platini will be happy up in the stands or wherever they will be.
"France are going to the World Cup, they are a big nation and we as a small nation have been cheated not to go to the World Cup."