Deschamps grateful for Wembley and England support

Date published: Wednesday 18th November 2015 8:06

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Didier Deschamps expressed his gratitude at England’s support of France on Tuesday night and called the pre-match ceremonies “a powerful emotional moment”.

A debut goal from Dele Alli and a close-range strike in the second half from Wayne Rooney gave England a 2-0 win in a friendly at Wembley, but the main success was the French performance four days after the Paris terrorist atrocities.

Deschamps said: “We would like to thank everyone for their statements and their actions of solidarity. We feel very grateful because not just the people at Wembley, but the whole nation has supported us.

“We have had this outpouring of communal grief and it has been good for us.”

Deschamps admitted he and his players were particularly affected by a thunderous rendition of La Marseillaise by the Coldstream Guards shortly before kick-off.

“We felt very, very strong emotions, powerful emotions,” Deschamps added. “Everyone has their own way of displaying their emotions but it was certainly a moment where everyone came together.

“It was heart-rending – you felt it deep down in your gut. It was a special, moving, grandiose moment.”

While paying tribute to England, Deschamps singled out Lassana Diara, who lost his cousin in the terrorist attacks but insisted on staying in the squad, and was given a standing ovation when he made a substitute appearance 20 minutes from full-time.

Deschamps added: “I spoke at some length with Lassana and he said all along he would be more than ready to come on and feature if I needed him.

“I really respected his choice of how he handled himself and carried himself throughout this difficult period, and his presence has been important for us.

“For that reason alone I made the decision that for the last 20 minutes he was going to feature. Because of how he has been with us it was deserved.”

England coach Roy Hodgson also praised the way his team coped with the difficult occasion and praised the poignant commemorations at the start of the match.

Hodgson said: “I think it was a very poignant occasion – it was everything I expected it to be and I thought the way the FA and the French FA set it up was very well done.

“I’ve already received some text messages from some French people I know or have worked with, they’ve been quick to say the occasion tonight was a very good occasion for their country and the way it was handled was a good thing for their country and we in England can be rightly proud we were able to put this event on.

“As far as we’re concerned an act of defiance is more important than the other alternative.

“I thought we achieved everything we wanted to achieve and then of course we had to put it aside and play a game of football and leave that side of it behind, because once the whistle goes it actually becomes about a game of football for us.”

French minister for sport Patrick Kanner, meamwhile, paid tribute to England fans singing La Marseillaise.

“It was an unbelievable show of support from our English friends,” Kanner said.

“There were French colours all over Wembley, and it was unbelievable to hear the Marseillaise all round the stadium, sung by 90,000 people.

“Me, when I sung those words with Prince William and David Cameron, I was thinking about all of the young people massacred in our own country last week.

“But we have to say that life goes on, we keep our heads up and tonight we were able to find our pride again.

“We have shown we have the determination to put the cause of our society above all else.”

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