Why We Will Make It a Night of Remembrance

Daily Mail (London), September 9, 1997 | Go to article overview

Why We Will Make It a Night of Remembrance


Byline: NEIL HARMAN

THEY have gone down to Kensington Palace with their flowers and notes, been recognised, but left in peace.

Normally, England's footballers would expect a crowd to congregate around them, pleading for autographs. This time it was different.

Few people in the England team are more instantly recognisable than David Seaman, MBE, but no-one bothered the captain-in-waiting as he joined the throng on Friday evening.

'It was strange, I suppose, the way people reacted,' said the Arsenal goalkeeper. 'I noticed it straight away because they recognised me but kept themselves to themselves.

Everyone wanted to be left to their own private thoughts as they were there to pay their respects to Diana.' Seaman had walked up Kensington Gore from Harrods, where he signed the Books of Condolence for the Princess of Wales and Dodi Al-Fayed. He was charged with the same kind of emotions he'd felt only a couple of weeks earlier, when his mother-in-law-to-be died.

'I've had a pretty bad month,' he said. 'Things are slowly getting better now.' How much better will be known tomorrow night when Seaman leads England out for the first and probably the only - time against Moldova for the penultimate Group Two qualifier for the 1998 World Cup. No-one can quite be sure what he and his team can expect.

The Football Association will not make up their minds until a couple of hours before the game what shape and style a remembrance to Diana will take.

They were hoping that Elton John would have been able to come to the stadium and sing the haunting Goodbye England's Rose which choked so many inside and outside Westminster Abbey on Saturday, but the singer has returned to America.

The song will almost certainly be played at some stage of the proceedings.

'It would be a nice touch to hear the song,' said Seaman, 'but I would have thought it would have to be played before the team came out. I don't know how it would affect us otherwise.

'The worst time for us will be up to the kick-off. Once we've got through that, hopefully, it might get back to a flavour of Euro 96.

We've got to get the right result as well, we need a win, the three points, we musn't overlook that.' The mere fact that Moldova, international innocents abroad, are the opposition can matter not one jot once the solemn emotions have been drained and the business side of the evening becomes paramount.

So close have the mathematics become in deciding which countries qualify automatically and who will enter the precious business of the two-legged playoffs in November, that England must not be sidetracked from the matter at hand.

Glenn Hoddle describes it as 'putting our professional heads back on'. The England coach added: 'We've got a job to do, there's no two ways about it. A lot of people had to be back to work on Monday morning, being professional.

WE'VE GOT to do that on Wednesday night.

I can't tell you what it's going to be like, no-one can predict the kind of atmosphere we'll find. …

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