WEMBLEY: France coach Didier Deschamps hailed the Wembley friendly against England as a triumph of the human spirit and called the pre-match ceremonies “a powerful emotional moment”.
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 English nation. We have had this moment of communal grief.”
He and his players had been affected particularly 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.
“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 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.”
Hodgson inevitably singled out Tottenham youngster Alli who marked his first full appearance with a stunning first half strike, hailing his performance as “close to faultless”.
Hodgson said: “It was close to a faultless performance – I didn’t think at any moment in the game that he was going to be anything other than top class.
“It is amazing that at his age to have no previous experience unless you count a few 10-minute substitute appearances, to go in and do what he did tonight was quite outstanding.
“I’ve certainly seen some players who want to say to me, you might have a few big names missing but you don’t have to worry because we’re here, and that’s a nice thing not only for me to know but for the country to know.”
Hodgson believes the two recent friendly fixtures will stand his squad in good stead for the more competitive challenges to follow, with Alli’s emergence underlining the increase in options at his disposal.
He added: “I thought we played very well in the first half – as well as we’ve played here at Wembley for a long time.
“These two games have given me what I wanted to see – in the Spain game I saw a team that defended very well and looked quite dangerous on the counter-attack, and tonight I saw a different type of opponent and approach and I thought the players handled it very well.”