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France coach Didier Deschamps said on Monday that his players had been moved by their grieving team-mate Lassana Diarra's decision to remain with the squad following the Paris terror attacks.
France coach Deschamps hails grieving Diarra

France coach Didier Deschamps said on Monday that his players had been moved by their grieving team-mate Lassana Diarra's decision to remain with the squad following the Paris terror attacks.

Diarra's cousin, Asta Diakite, who the Marseille midfielder described as "a big sister", was one of the 129 people killed during the rolling attacks that struck Paris last Friday.

But he elected to remain with the squad preparing for Tuesday's friendly against England, along with team-mate Antoine Griezmann, whose sister escaped the massacre at the Bataclan concert hall that left 89 people dead.

"We have two players who have been more affected, but in different ways," Deschamps told his pre-match press conference at Wembley.

"For Antoine Griezmann, the circumstances are happy. In his case, it's a relief and a happiness to have been able to keep his sister with him after she was present during the show at the Bataclan.

"Lass is hurting to the bone over a person who is very close to him. Lass wanted to stay with us and to hold onto those values of unity and solidarity. His presence with us is reassuring."

The first sign of Friday's horror arrived during the first half of France's friendly against Germany at the Stade de France, when a huge explosion could be heard outside the ground.

It proved to be one of three suicide bombings targeting the match, which claimed the lives of the three attackers and one bystander, but France's players and staff were not made aware of the attacks that had hit the city until after the game.

"We were in the match, without having heard the explosions or known what had happened," said Deschamps, who was addressing the media for the first time since the attacks.

"We were really brought up to date at the end of the match. We obviously realised that there had been a disaster around the stadium and in the centre of Paris."

- 'Proud to be French' -He added: "The German delegation was put under the responsibility of the French State. Independently of the security problems, we stayed with them.

"I spoke to (Germany coach) Joachim Loew and the German officials. It was important for me to stay with them until a decision was taken.

"We left late and we arrived during the night at Clairefontaine and tried to eat something before trying to sleep. But I can't hide that it ws a very short night for everyone."

France's players and staff have been sequestered at the Clairefontaine national training centre since the attacks and Deschamps admitted that it has been an immensely difficult period.

"Even though we were together at Clairefontaine, we weren't cut off from the world," he said.

"Each of us followed the disastrous news that was being reported. I made a point of talking about it. The players also discussed it between themselves.

"We can't forget. We've had two days to get over this immense sadness. Today we're here and our energy has to be focused on preparing for this match with as much dignity and solemnity as possible."

Asked if he had a message for the attackers who had carried out the atrocities, Deschamps responded: "It's difficult to find the words faced with such barbarity.

"We think of the victims and the pain of the families. I can't comment more than that. The match tomorrow (Tuesday) won't have a sporting dimension, but something much bigger.

"We're here with the players and the staff to represent our country and show that we're proud to be French in a historic, wonderful place, with the English people and supporters, who I thank for their messages of solidarity. 

I'm sure that the match will be full of emotion."

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