Irish fans want “revenge” for Thierry Henry’s notorious handball heartache when the Republic face France in a Euro 2016 showdown.
Ireland secured their place in the knockout stages in dramatic fashion when Robbie Brady headed the ball past the Italian keeper with just five minutes to go in Lille on Wednesday night.
T he boys in green will now hope to keep fans’ dreams alive when they meet hosts France in Lyon on Sunday – and many are seeing it as a chance for revenge after French star Henry’s handball which broke Irish hearts in 2009.
Henry got away with handling the ball in the build-up to the decisive goal in a World Cup play-off as France advanced to the 2010 tournament in South Africa at Ireland’s expense.
Mick Brophy, 32, from Dublin, said: “It’s time for revenge. It was a night with destiny.
“Robbie Brady wrote himself into Irish folklore and history, and Thierry Henry is going to get his comeuppance.
“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
Keith Sheridan, 23, from Castleblaney in Co Monaghan, said he could vividly recall the handball moment.
“I remember it well. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Now Sunday’s our chance to dish out a bit of payback.
“That day in 2009 is one we won’t forget. Let’s hope Sunday is a day we won’t forget.”
His friend Shane Conlon, 22, also from Castleblaney, said: “They robbed us of our place in the World Cup, so now we’re going to knock them out of their own Euros.”
Dan Corrigan, 29, from Dublin, said: “That handball was bleak. We’ve got a good chance to turn it back round now.
“To beat the French in their own country … Lyon would turn green with envy.”
Meanwhile, one Irish fan does not feel as strongly about embarking on revenge. Lorcan Mullen, 26, from Strabane in Co Tyrone, said: “I feel like a traitor for the night of the Henry handball.
“I was chasing a girl who was in to arty movies at the time, and I skipped the game to see a Jacques Audiard film.
“I was late to the outrage, I didn’t feel it in the moment, seeing the game.
“I think if an Irish player had done the same, we’d be hailing them for being a savvy sportsman with a will to win, but I don’t have the right to defend Henry, really.”
Mr Mullen said “with the wind in our sails and a belief”, the Irish can beat anyone, on a good night.
Even the French are talking about “revenge” ahead of the big match.
Dan O’Donovan, 33, from County Cork, said: “We met a French guy. He picked us out and he said ‘Revenge for Henry’.”
And the day after the victory over Italy, a message on a board outside the Tir na nOg Irish pub in Lille said: “Thanks for the biggest party we have ever seen. Good luck in Lyon. Don’t forget Thierry Henry.”