Lundekvam praises 'honest' Henry
By Simon Fudge. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
CLAUS LUNDEKVAM has praised Arsenal striker Thierry Henry for his honest play in the early seconds of Saturday's FA Cup final in Cardiff.
Southampton's Norwegian defender was thankful that the Frenchman's early attack on the Saints goal did not see him receive a red card for his impeding actions.
Lundekvam pulled Henry's shirt back on the edge of the Southampton penalty area but with the striker having surged a step ahead of the defender, he decided to shrug the Scandinavian off and carry on at goal, when many other players might have gone down.
Henry eventually had his close-range shot blocked by Southampton goalkeeper Antti Niemi but the Frenchman's decision to play the attack likely saved Lundekvam from a sending off.
"Thierry did me a favour by staying on his feet," said Lundekvam.
"If he had gone down, I don't think I would have stayed on the pitch.
"Luckily, he is an honest guy. He's a fantastic player as well as a nice man and it's not always possible to talk about your opponents like that.
"We were laughing and joking about that incident for the rest of the game.
"He caught me cold at the start of the game and it would have been easy for him to look for a penalty instead of going on."
Despite the 1-0 defeat on Saturday, another Southampton player who relished his moment in the final was surprise inclusion Chris Baird.
The 21-year-old made just his second start for the club on Saturday and the former Saints trainee had an outstanding performance at right back.
Baird admitted to having few nerves during the match, despite finding out that he would start the day before on Friday.
"The boss, Gordon Strachan, just walked into the changing room (on Friday morning) and read out the team," said Baird.
"Obviously, I was surprised and the first thing I did was phone home to tell my family.
"The only time I felt nervous was walking up the tunnel at the start - I looked across and saw some of the world-class stars in the Arsenal team.
"But once I got on to the pitch, that sort of thing didn't faze me.
"I'm still in a bit of a dream world but now it's time to get my feet on the ground and push ahead with my career."