Thierry Henry says Dimitri Payet’s emotion after scoring France’s spectacular winner in their home Euro 2016 opener against Romania proved how hurt the West Ham star was by his 2014 World Cup snub in Brazil.
Payet was a mainstay in the France squad during qualification for the World Cup two years ago but did not make the final squad, though he was the hero with his match-winning goal in the 89th minute at the Stade de France.
And France great Henry said the emotion he displayed in the Group A opener in Paris proved how hurt he was by the exclusion.
“He thought that he was going to go the World Cup in Brazil. He was involved in every single qualification game,” Henry told BBC afterwards.
“They didn’t pick him. You saw a man that was hurt on the pitch today.
“You saw a man that wants to play for his nation, you saw a man that said, ‘you didn’t pick me to play at the World Cup in Brazil, I’m going to show you what you missed, I’m going to show you that I had to go to play in the Premier League for you to recognise my talent.’
“He wanted to show that tonight. He wanted every single ball. Every single ball
“Every time he made something happened, you have to give him credit.
“The team was there, you can’t win the game by yourself, but that strike. Oh my gosh.”
Henry said he was happy for Payet to exorcise his 2014 demons.
“I never had the experience of missing a great opportunity when you thought you were going to play a World Cup, that’s a dream for any kid and they took that away from him,” Henry said.
“But no one is going to take what’s happening to him away.
“He was outstanding. Not only with the way he played, not only with his skills. But his desire. He’s the one who drove the team forward, he’s the one who wanted it the most.”