Tuesday 20 August 2019

'Green Army will take over,' says French ambassador

French Ambassador to Ireland Jean-Pierre Thebault. Photo: Frank McGrath
French Ambassador to Ireland Jean-Pierre Thebault. Photo: Frank McGrath
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

Ireland will temporarily take ownership of Lyon on Sunday, according to the French ambassador in Dublin - who believes Irish fans will make sure they get to the game amid the ticket chaos.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault said Ireland's supporters have been the stars of the tournament so far - with the hype surrounding the Green Army, a Europe-wide appreciation. He even wants to invite a certain group to the embassy.

"Really, I was impressed by the ones who fitted the wheel on the car for the elderly people," he said.

"By the way, if we were able to identify who they were, we would be very proud to invite them for the national day of celebration of France - it would be an opportunity to celebrate those fans and their attitude, but we can't invite all of them.

"I'm sure the Irish will find ways and means to take over the stadium for an afternoon to make Lyon the capital of Ireland," he added.

The Boys in Green play in France again this weekend and Mr Thebault, pictured, has called for one topic to stay off the lips of their fans - Thierry Henry's infamous handball that stole potential World Cup qualification from Giovanni Trapattoni's team.

The word 'revenge' has been brought up on a couple of occasions since the match was confirmed, particularly from RTÉ pundit Eamon Dunphy, who insisted "what goes around, comes around, baby".

"I wouldn't use the word revenge," he said.

"People have moved on and both teams are very different.

"I hope that this will become an opportunity to celebrate football.

"There are words that on the day of the game, we should absolutely ban and they are Thierry Henry and hand," he added.

But what if an Ireland player scored a goal by means of a handball?

"I'm certain that there would immediately be an uproar in Ireland, saying it's not fair," he joked.

Irish Independent

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