Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has spoken about his controversial handball incident for France for the first time and taken a dig at Barca star Lionel Messi.

Thierry says Messi is forgiven when he cheats.

In a 2010 World Cup qualifying match for France, the Frenchman’s controversial handball sent his nation through to the competition, with many feeling as though he ruined his reputation.

In a do-or-die encounter with Republic of Ireland, Thierry Henry controlled the ball with his hand, before William Gallas helped the ball into the back of the net.

When asked about the incident, Henry mentioned that when Lionel Messi cheats, he is hailed by the fans.

“It is the competitor reflex, which you occasionally have,” he told Canal+.

“When Messi scored against Espanyol [in 2007], he dives and everyone sees it. I remembered all the words 'extraordinary, brilliant Messi, he resembles Maradona.'

“And me? It seemed like I had killed someone.”

The former Barcelona player, who was Messi’s teammate in Spain, retired last year and now works as a pundit in England with Sky Sports.

In his professional career, the Arsenal legend scored 344 goals and 130 assists.