Diarra praised for France appearance

Former Pompey midfielder Lassana Diarra playing for France at Wembley
Former Pompey midfielder Lassana Diarra playing for France at Wembley
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Bacary Sagna has paid tribute to Lassana Diarra following his emotional appearance against England.

The Pompey FA Cup winner lost his cousin, Asta Diakite, during the Paris attacks which killed 129 people.

Yet he still turned up for international duty on Tuesday night when France played England.

Diarra, who made 32 appearances and scored three times for Pompey, entered as a 57th minute substitute, earning a standing ovation.

And Manchester City full-back Sagna spoke of his admiration for his team-mate.

He said: ‘He kept his head high, has smiled and has spoken to us all.

‘He tried to get close to everyone. I’ve lost someone close to me in my family and it’s never easy. But he responded like the professional he is.’

Many England fans were seen holding French flags and wearing T-shirts with messages of support, while the iconic Wembley arch was lit up in red, white and blue, with France’s national motto ‘Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite’ displayed across the entrance.

At the final whistle, the French players applauded fans and Sagna was adamant it had been the correct decision to play the fixture.

He added: ‘Although it can’t put a smile back on the faces of the French people, this was the least we could do: to try to give all we could in support of the families of the victims.

‘This was about more than just a football match.

‘We were just a little part in a bigger show of strength.’