Belfast Telegraph

Rooney message to fans: United we stand against terror

By Paul Hirst

Wayne Rooney wants England and France supporters to come together and show the terrorists who attacked Paris that they will never crush the spirit of the free world.

Four days after terrorists wreaked havoc on the streets of the French capital, France will take on England in a friendly at Wembley.

Extra security measures will be put in place - armed police will patrol the area - and tributes to the victims of the attacks, which claimed 129 lives, will be paid before the match.

A minute's silence will be observed, black armbands will be worn and the Wembley arch will be lit up in the red, white and blue colours of the French tricolor.

The words of La Marseillaise will be put on the big screen if England fans want to sing along.

England captain Rooney, who will present a floral tribute to his opposite number Hugo Lloris before kick-off, believes the match will send an important message out to the terrorists and the rest of the world.

"I'm happy the game's on," Rooney said.

"It shows France wants to show these terrorists they're standing strong against them, and we have to support that.

"Tomorrow will be a great night of togetherness for everyone to see, for the terrorists to see the world will go on and stand against them."

Roy Hodgson has urged England fans to respect their French counterparts.

"We hope the ceremonies will be respected," the England manager said.

"If there's one thing that I truly wish for is that we show the respect I'd expect every single Englishman to show."

FA chief executive Martin Glenn is not worried that fans will ignore Hodgson's plea for respect.

"I have no concerns (about that)," he said.

"People have 'got' this.

"The match will have massive global significance. It's important to demonstrate terrorism can't win.

"The eyes of the world will be on Wembley, not just those of English people."

The FA is urging supporters to get to the stadium early as it will take longer to get into the stadium.

All bags will be checked.

The FA is expecting a near-full house at Wembley, which holds 90,000.

Thousands more tickets have been sold since the attacks. Less than 100 have been returned.

Kensington Palace have confirmed the Duke of Cambridge will be in attendance.

Glenn said there was "no specific intelligence" about an attack at the friendly similar to the ones that occurred outside the Stade de France.

"There is a physical presence now around Wembley. It's safe anyway," he said.

There are concerns among fans about their safety at Euro 2016, however.

Three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Stade de France, which will host the opening game and final of the European Championship, on Friday.

The draw for the tournament will also take place on December 12 in the French capital.

Glenn has no qualms about safety at either event.

"We've had no advice to say either for the draw or the Euros are unsafe," he said.

"But this is a dynamic thing, not a static things.

If things deteriorated, it would be wrong to say that wouldn't change our thinking."

Rooney, meanwhile, has spoken for the first time about the attacks.

The skipper and his England team-mates were playing in Spain when the terrorists struck.

It was only when they got back to their hotel in Benidorm that they realised the horrific scale of the slaughter.

"It was shocking, sickening," said Rooney, whose thoughts immediately turned to the well-being of his Manchester United team-mates Anthony Martial, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who played in France's 2-0 win over Germany.

"There were friends there, and it could have happened to them," he said.

"I spoke to my team-mates to see if they were safe.

"I was hoping nothing serious had happened to them as a friend."

With the main focus on putting on a united front in the face of terrorism, rather than the football, Rooney expects tonight's game to be a "strange" experience.

He will take it upon himself to speak to his young team-mates to ensure they are not affected by the emotion of the occasion.

"There are a lot of young players in the game tomorrow, and it's an extremely difficult situation," Rooney said.

"Myself, Roy, (coaches) Gary Neville and Ray Lewington will try and make them as relaxed as possible."

Hodgson said six players under the age of 22 will play tonight, with Tottenham pair Dele Alli and Eric Dier both set to start.

Belfast Telegraph


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