France’s Thierry Henry almost left soccer after the handball controversy with the Irish

France captain Thierry Henry says he almost quit soccer after his handball led to France defeating Ireland in the World Cup qualifier last week.

Henry told the French sports paper L'Equipe that he felt "truly alone" as the controversy raged over his blatant handling of the ball which sparked international fury directed at him. 

The Barcelona striker faced a flood of criticism at home and abroad .

"Yes, I asked myself the question,” he said, referring to whether he should quit or not.

"Without the support of my family, I perhaps would not have made the same decision.

“After the game, and even for the next two days, I felt alone, truly alone," Henry said.

He also said his own soccer federation abandoned him when the controversy arose.

“It was only after I sent my statement that people from the French Federation appeared,” he said.

Henry says he made the statement with the help of his lawyer that a replay of the second leg would be the "fairest solution."

“But frankly, it was uncontrollable,” Henry said. “After all that had happened... yes, I regret it. That's why right after I spoke with the Irish one by one.

“But I will always fight to the end - even if what just happened will be engraved. You can always forgive but you cannot always forget."

The 32-year-old is France's record scorer with 51 goals and will be a key player for them in the World Cup finals in South Africa.

"Despite everything that has happened, the fact of feeling abandoned, I do not let go of (playing for) my country," he added.

But Henry also admitted he should not have celebrated the goal that his cheating helped bring about and was repentant over his celebration with teammates after referee Martin Hansson had waived away Irish appeals to award the goal.

"I should not have done it," he said.