I'll never forget the look on the face of my football fanatic son when Thierry Henry’s handball in Paris six years ago robbed Ireland of a possible place at the World Cup finals. Watching on TV it was so obvious, so blatant, so deliberate, that there was no way the goal that followed could be allowed to stand my son insisted, tears in his eyes.
After the heroics of the Irish team that night in the Stade de France, it was so unfair, so unjust. It flew in the face of everything I had taught my kids about how good always prevails and those who do the right thing will always be rewarded. Here was an example of how cheating of the lowest kind could work.
I will never forget the disgust on my son's face as he slowly realized that nothing could be done. At 1-1 we might have beaten the French on penalties, but we were not going to get the chance. The referee had not spotted the handball, even though everyone else had.
We were out. France was going to World Cup finals in South Africa instead of us.
Particularly hard to take that night was the disgusting sight of that supposed paragon of sporting virtue, Thierry Henry, sitting on the pitch after the game apparently commiserating with the exhausted Richard Dunne who, you will remember, had given his all. Because Henry had had a choice in that critical moment after his handball had given France their second goal.
If sticking his hand out had been an instinctive reaction, as he later claimed, he could have run out to the ref immediately and admitted what had happened in that split second. He could have been a man, a real sportsman, and owned up, and maybe the ref would have disallowed the goal.
But Henry didn't. He celebrated in the background, and when the match was over he hung around on the pitch as though nothing was wrong.
Of course it wasn't just me and my son who were deeply upset by what happened that night. All the Irish fans in Paris, watching all over Ireland and around the world, were devastated and outraged.
But nothing could be done. That's football, we were told.
The referee's decision is final, and taking part in the competition was an acceptance of that. The FIFA boss Sepp Blatter repeated this as he joked and sneered at the Irish for continuing to complain in the days that followed.
The French made sympathetic noises and did nothing. The whole world knew we had been robbed, but then attention moved on, as it always does. The Irish were left with nothing but the high moral ground.
Now, thanks to the boss of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) John Delaney, even that has been taken from under our feet. Delaney's admission last week that he had negotiated a secret €5 million payoff from Blatter to go away and shut up completely undermines the outrage and grievance felt by the Irish team and the fans at the time, and their demand for justice.
While everyone who loved football in Ireland had continued to demand that something be done -- even members of the Irish government were protesting -- Delaney was doing his tawdry deal behind closed doors and not telling anyone about it.
The money was characterized as a "loan" to Irish football, which would only have to be repaid if we qualified for the following World Cup in Brazil in 2014. (Qualification for a World Cup would be worth at least €30 million to Irish football.) When that did not happen the "loan" was written off.
When Delaney revealed this last week (presumably because he knew it might come out eventually as FIFA is investigated) he attempted to justify his actions, saying that he had first tried to get a sporting resolution from Blatter, in other words a replay or an extra place for Ireland at the World Cup finals. When that failed, Delaney said, he then moved on to seek a financial resolution, a deal that would benefit Irish football in the long run.
He believes the deal he got, which produced a €5 million payment to be used to pay down some of the debt on the new Aviva Stadium in Dublin, was a good one for Ireland. Part of the deal was a confidentiality clause that meant that he could not talk about it.
Last weekend Delaney produced documentation to support what he was saying, although various questions have been raised about these documents and about the way the €5 million in funds was treated in the FAI accounts. Basically it was hidden.
Delaney also contradicted his first explanation that the money was to make up for the handball. He clarified that the reason FIFA paid the FAI the €5 million was not directly because of the handball -- he said that was just the catalyst because the referee's decision was protected legally.
The real reason FIFA gave the FAI the deal, Delaney said, was because they feared the Irish might take a legal case of defamation based on Blatter's sneering remarks, or a case based on the FIFA decision at the last minute to introduce seeding into the lead up to the World Cup finals. This was done so the bigger countries (like France) could avoid each other and increase their chances of getting to South Africa, but it was done at the expense of the smaller countries and there were questions about the legality of making such a late change at the time.
There was some opinion here in the past few days which backed what Delaney had done on the basis that nothing else was achievable in terms of getting to the World Cup at the time, and the money was needed for the FAI's share of the Aviva debt.
Ultimately it benefitted Irish soccer. Soccer is big business, so the smart thing was to make the best of a bad situation and grab what we could.
But the vast majority of opinion here does not agree with this. The problem is that the deal -- called Blood Money and Thirty Pieces of Silver in the headlines here -- looks really bad in the context of all the other revelations about corruption, bribes and payoffs in FIFA that have emerged in the past couple of weeks.
It puts us right up there in the international headlines now appearing about FIFA-sponsored corruption in football in Caribbean and African countries and other parts of the world as well.
But of course what was fundamentally wrong with the deal is that it betrayed and shamed Irish football. Accepting a secret payoff when everyone else in Irish football was united in demanding justice was completely the wrong thing to do. The Irish team, the management and the fans knew nothing about what was going on behind closed doors.
The deal has tarnished the great image of Irish football internationally, an image of a national team that always plays honorably and supporters who know how to be happy and celebrate in defeat as well as victory and are frequently referred to as "the best fans in the world." The devastation these fans felt after Paris has now been besmirched forever.
The deal puts us right in there with all the other murky business in FIFA which the investigation is now uncovering. We are now learning how the billions gained by FIFA from world football TV rights were used to keep Blatter and his cronies in power and keep the system ticking over.
This was a system in which millions could be used to buy votes, in which millions given to individuals for the development of football in their poorer countries sometimes vanished, and in which rich countries could buy their way into hosting the World Cup.
With all countries in the world, even the smallest and poorest, having a single vote, the much vaunted democracy in the "FIFA Family" was wide open to manipulation and corruption, and Blatter and his cronies were able to buy any decisions they wanted.
The answer to any problem was to throw FIFA money at the national representatives. So it's no accident that that is what was done when the Irish became a problem after Paris.
There is no suggestion that the FAI, or Delaney, is corrupt. The deal money, as far as we know, did go directly to make payments on the FAI share of the Aviva debt.
But that is not the issue here. The issue is that the deal put a price -- a pretty low price -- on the despair and disappointment of the gallant Irish team and their heartbroken supporters.
In fact the day after the game in Paris, Delaney said the following, “It’s not about money. This is about sporting integrity.” It's a pity he did not stick to that principle.
Delaney earns a staggering €360,000 ($400,000) a year plus expenses as FAI chief executive, making him one of the highest paid national football bosses in Europe, particularly among countries of similar size to Ireland. With that amount of money coming in, why would he need to be corrupt?
But it may be a clue to why he was comfortable negotiating this deal. It all fits into a system which was awash with money and in which national football executives had very high personal expectations.
We don't know yet whether Blatter directly took millions out of FIFA in corrupt payments for himself. His salary is undisclosed but is reckoned to be several million a year plus five star expenses all the way. With that amount of money, why would he need to be directly corrupt?
Since the wider FIFA scandal erupted in the past two weeks, thanks to the American investigation, Delaney has been prominent in calling for more openness, transparency and accountability in how world football is run. But there was no transparency when he did the deal with Blatter, and a lot of what he has been saying sounds very hollow indeed.
As the investigation progresses, we are learning more and more about individuals who got corrupt millions and about how the the World Cups of 2018 and 2022 were probably bought.
Delaney has referred to Blatter as "an embarrassment" to football. He needs to look in the mirror.