London: Retired French World Cup winner and midfielder Emmanuel Petit has criticised his country's media for being "hypocritical and cowardly" in treating his former teammate and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
The midfielder took a dig at the national media when he was asked about his favourite memories of Henry.
"In England, they’ve built a statue of Thierry. That means a lot. He is revered there. This bad image (in the French press) of Thierry Henry, it annoys me,” he was quoted as saying by the Guardian Wednesday.
“What can we reproach Henry for? His handball against Ireland? He helped France qualify for the World Cup in South Africa. He has done nothing to face such criticism."
Petit played alongside Henry in the team that won the 1998 World Cup on home soil and spent three years at Arsenal from 1997 to 2000.
“France is hypocritical and cowardly. Sometimes I think that if we’d been overrun by the Germans, we’d be better run,” he added.
Petit also compared Henry's treatment by the French media to that of Rooney's by the English Press.
He said Rooney is not hated in England despite his questionable conduct on-and-off the field, but Henry has never made a wrong move on the pitch, neither were there stories of his private life.
“I have great difficulty with the French, I have never seen such arrogant, smug, lying and hypocritical people,” he said.
Petit made 85 appearances for Arsenal and scored nine goals before joining Barcelona in 2000. He finished his playing career at Chelsea, retiring in 2004