France captain Thierry Henry said he understood why fans were jeering him after persistent booing from the home crowd during the 2-0 loss to Spain in a World Cup warmup match at the Stade de France on Wednesday.
France, in their first game since Henry's infamous handball against Ireland in a World Cup playoff in the same stadium last November, were outclassed by the European champions and their 32-year-old captain was the main focus of French fans' wrath even before Spain opened the scoring.
‘It's the same story as usual and it's not the first time I've experienced that kind of situation at the Stade de France,’ Henry told reporters.
‘I understand people who were eager for us to play well against Spain and, when you don't play well, you have to expect being jeered at. I don't know if I deserved that but there is nothing I can do.
‘I absolutely had no pace. When you have to run after the ball after having only played one game in the last month and a half, it is really tough,’ Henry, who is no longer in the starting lineup at Barcelona, added.
Coach Raymond Domenech, who had been a firm supporter of France's all-time topscorer until Wednesday night, expressed his concern at Henry's present state.
‘Obviously, everybody knows Titi has performed better in the past and it's obvious that it is becoming a problem for him to play high level games such as this one while he's got less playing time (at Barcelona),’ Domenech, the only man French fans booed more than Henry, said.
‘(His situation) raises some questions but we've not reached the point yet when it has become alarming’
Henry's Barca team mate, Spain midfielder Xavi, told reporters on Thursday that the hard-working French striker just needed to get his confidence back in front of goal.
‘Henry is an example for us all and always works hard in training. He is a great professional and I just think he has lost his goalscoring touch,’ he said.
‘It sometimes happens to players who live to score goals, and all he needs to do is get his confidence back as soon as possible.
‘When things aren't going well it's standard practice for the fans to whistle but I don't think they were only whistling at Titi. I think they were doing it to a number of other players as well.’