LONDON (AP) — Shaken by the coordinated attacks that ripped through Paris and killed 129 people on Friday, France captain Hugo Lloris and his teammates had doubts and concerns about having to play a soccer match four days later.
The decision was taken out of their hands — France's players were told without consultation that the friendly against England at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday would go ahead — and now Lloris is grateful for the chance to honor the victims of the bombings.
"We have decided to play tomorrow and do our jobs on the field, for the country and the victims," a somber Lloris said Monday, in the first public comments from France's squad since the attacks.
"It will be a great moment of solidarity. The last three days have been dramatic and I think we were in mourning all together. It will be an opportunity to show our character through the game and our emotions."
The French team was caught up in the carnage that unfolded on Friday, with suicide bombers targeting the Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris — where France was playing Germany in a friendly match. Three bombers, and a bystander, died in the blasts outside the stadium, and the French and German teams spent the night inside the venue.
France's players were transported straight from the Stade de France to their training base at Clairefontaine just outside the capital, where they remained until flying to London for the England game. They haven't seen their families since Friday.
"Of course we are human," Lloris said. "We would have liked to have seen the people close to us and spend time with our nearest and dearest. But we have not been cut off from the world. We have remained together, we have discussed stuff together and gone through the dramatic events of Friday, we have kept up to date with what's happening through TV and the internet. Now here we are."
Lloris, who plays his club football in England for Tottenham, sees Tuesday's game as "an escape for 90 minutes" and says it will be an "amazing experience" to see England fans join their French counterparts in singing the French national anthem before the game, as is being urged.
"There will be a lot of emotion from the players," Lloris said. "It will be a great moment of solidarity."
With his bottom lip quivering, France coach Didier Deschamps declined an opportunity to send a message to the attackers. Instead, he suggested Nov. 13 — the day of the killings — will go down as a moment that brought the squad and the country together.
"More than ever now, sport knows no color, no religion — all are welcome in sport," Deschamps said. "The great thing about sport is that it brings people together, and is a way of uniting people. It needs to continue doing that."