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England vs France: liberté, egalité, fraternité

Eddie was at Wembley Tuesday night to see a united England and France.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

When I bought tickets last month to go and see England play France, I never expected to be going to a game like this. I don't think anyone can predict or comprehend a tragedy like the Paris attacks last Friday.

Before last Friday, I thought I would be attending a friendly between rivals. Understandably, and rightly so, any such animosity disappeared, and the match itself took a back seat.

As with other famous landmarks all over the world, Wembley's arch was beautifully lit with the colour's of the French Tricolore, while the national matto of France, liberté, egalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity), was displayed across the outside of the ground.

liberté, egalité, fraternité #england #wembley

A photo posted by Eddie Skelly (@eddieskelly) on

There was no obligation from the French players or staff to come and take part in the game, especially seeing as it was only four days since the Paris attacks. Such is the spirit of the French team, that all 23 players and staff were present and ready to honour those lost. Midfielder Lassana Diarra's cousin, Asta Diakite, was one of 129 people killed on Friday, while striker Antoine Griezmann's sister escaped from the Bataclan theatre where 89 people died.

Both players remained with the squad, with the former having posted a message on Twitter stating: "In this climate of terror, it is important for all of us who represent our country and its diversity to stay united against a horror which has no colour, no religion."

Everything that needed to be done was achieved before a ball was kicked. Prince William, joined by France manager Didier Deschamps and England manger Roy Hodgson, led the teams out, laying floral tributes of red, white and blue.

The standard anthem of God save the Queen was sung, before an emotional rendition of France's national anthem, La Marseillaise, echoed around the entire ground. Accompanying La Marseillaise was a mosaic of the French flag, which I had the privilege of being part of.

In Turkey, some fans chose to boo during a minute's silence to remember those lost, but at Wembley, the fans impeccably served the minute's silence.

Players and fans stood side by side, strong and defiant. It's testament to the human spirit that 10,000 tickets were sold after Friday. Many French fans had bought tickets since Friday, determined to be here – whether to pay respects, show solidarity or stand defiant.

The match itself was served less importance than it normally would, and rightly so. Yes, England won 2-0, which meant England have now won 9 in a row at Wembley. Goals from Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney sealed the win, but the most important moment in the night happened even before kick off.

Liberté, egalité, fraternité.