Odd WWII reference as Frenchman slams treatment of Arsenal hero

Emmanuel Petit believes that his former Arsenal and France team-mate Thierry Henry deserves more recognition in their homeland, and that things may be better in the country had been “overrun by the Germans” during World War II.

The New York Red Bulls’ MLS play-off loss to the New England Revolution over the weekend is expected to be the Gunners idol’s last ever game of professional football, with the 37-year-old expected to announce his retirement soon.

Henry’s impending exit from the beautiful game has been big news in England – where the forward played for Arsenal for eight years and now has a statute dedicated to him outside the Emirates Stadium in honour of being the club’s all-time record goalscorer – but the reaction has been slightly muted in France.

Even though the veteran hit-man played a key role in the World Cup 1998 triumph and represented Les Bleus in 123 occasions, he is not as highly regarded as some former stars, and Petit has launched a stunning attack on the people of his home nation in reference to the treatment his old team-mate has received:

“In England, they’ve built a statue of Thierry,” the ex-Arsenal midfielder told Sports.fr. “That means a lot. He’s adored there. It bothers 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.

“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.”