Euro 2016: Thierry Henry says France's Dimitri Payet was 'hurt'

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Euro 2016: Dimitri Payet scores stunning French winner

Dimitri Payet's stunning late winner against Romania in the opening game of Euro 2016 was redemption for the "hurt" he has endured in his France career, says Thierry Henry.

The Euro 2016 hosts were set for a draw against Romania when West Ham player Payet's sublime finish earned victory in the tournament's opening game.

"Tonight you saw a man who was hurt," former France and Arsenal striker Henry told BBC Radio 5 live.

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"He showed tremendous desire."

Payet provided the cross for Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud to head France ahead before hitting a 30-yard finish after Bogdan Stancu had equalised from the penalty spot for Romania.

The 29-year-old was in tears when he was substituted to a standing ovation in stoppage time at the Stade de France.

Last October Payet described his exclusion from the France squad as an "injustice".

"That tells you how much he wants to play for France," added Henry, who helped France win the 1998 World Cup.

"He cried at the end of the game. He thought he was going to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He was involved in every qualifying game but they took that away from him.

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"He was saying with that performance against Romania 'you didn't take me to the World Cup and I am going to show you'. He wanted every single ball.

"You can't win a game by yourself but that strike... oh my gosh. He showed tremendous desire. He was the one that drove the team forward."

'Hard work has got me here'

Payet said he was pinching himself after scoring a winner that ensured France made a winning start in front of their own fans.

"At the start of the season, a lot of people would have found it hard to believe I would be here," added the scorer of nine goals in 30 Premier League appearances for West Ham in 2015-16.

"I have got here by working hard and want to soak up the experience.

"When I saw the stadium tonight I knew I was going to have fun.

"There was a lot of stress, a lot of pressure. If someone had told me it would have gone like that I wouldn't have believed it."

'Payet was the difference'

France boss Didier Deschamps said Payet's performance "was the difference" for France.

"I have no doubts about the influence he can have within a game or the fact he can make the difference," he added.

"He was the difference maker today - he is an attacking player but also someone who helps out the team."

On Payet's tears at the end, Deschamps added: "The emotions were very strong.

"He has come a long way in a short time but he has done everything in his power to be there now.

"Now I am going to put him on ice ahead of the next two matches to make sure nothing happens untoward to him."

Deschamps admitted he was a relieved man at the end of a hard-fought game.

"It wasn't easy to play this Romanian team," he added. "We had chances but gave them some too.

"It was difficult to relax but it's important to win the first match. The opening game is never easy and it's a great platform."

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