Saturday 1 October 2016

Video: Arsene Wenger reveals he was meant to be at Stade de France during terror attacks

Jack de Menezes

Published 19/11/2015 | 14:53

Arsene Wenger has revealed that he was due to be at the Stade de France last Friday when it was targeted during the Paris terror attacks, and he has thanked English fans for their “gesture of solidarity” in singing La Marseillaise ahead of Tuesday’s friendly between England and France at Wembley.

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The Arsenal manager was in Paris when several attacks across the capital city left 129 people dead, and he decided not to travel to the match after being late to the game, instead choosing to watch it on television from hit hotel.

After being left in “shock” from the attacks, Wenger returned to England and attended Tuesday’s encounter, where a 2-0 victory for England felt meaningless given what the match represented in terms of standing up against the terrorist attacks.

"I was late for my appointment, so I was late to the stadium and I decided to watch the game in the hotel where I was. I was more under shock than fearful," Wenger said at his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s match with West Bromwich Albion as the Premier League resumes.

"You could be scared because it was four different places attacked. You don't feel secure anywhere.

"Everybody who was in Paris on Friday night was in shock. France is like England - a tolerant and generous country.

"You have a bit more of a question of security, because it looks like it's not the end of it."

Wenger added: "A way for us is just to get on with life and to respond in a positive way to the situation.

"We cannot stop everything, try to continue with our lives.

"It is more a way of life that is being targeted than any individual community."

The Football Association implemented a number of tributes to remember the victims of the attacks, which included displaying the lyrics to La Marseillaise so that English fans could join their French opponents in an act of unity, and Wenger admitted it was like nothing he had seen before as the two nations – old rivals on the field – came together as one.

"It is a nice gesture of solidarity," the Arsenal manager continued at Thursday's press conference.

"It is not an obvious one for the fans - just like it would not be an obvious one for fans in France to sing 'God Save the Queen', so symbolically it is a very nice gesture.

"It was fantastic for France and it showed the class of England to see the arch of Wembley in French colours."

Wenger added: "I would like to thank the English community and English football who have shown great solidarity. It was a huge shock for our country and our football.

"You always think after this kind of event - do you continue to play or do you stop your life? For me they made the right decision and the event on Tuesday night has shown it was the right decision.

"The football world has responded the way you want it to respond in a big union and togetherness."

Independent News Service

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