Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has revealed he visited Buckingham Palace on Friday to pay his own respects to the Queen but is pleased the majority of football will now go ahead this week.
The death of Her Majesty on Thursday saw all of last weekend’s domestic football fixtures cancelled, including Spurs’ trip to Manchester City, but European ties over the coming days will be played and seven of the Premier League’s scheduled matches for Saturday and Sunday will take place.
Tottenham host Leicester at the weekend but first take on Sporting Lisbon in their second Champions League game of the season looking to move top of Group D.
Conte told reporters in Lisbon of the impact of the Queen’s death on everyone at the club, saying: “What happened in the last few days in England is something extraordinary.
“Unfortunately, the Queen died. Honestly, on Thursday, we were all sad because we are talking about a person that her service for this country was outstanding. I think that in this moment there is big sadness in the country for this.
“I was living this atmosphere in London. And on Friday I went to Buckingham Palace like a normal person, because I am a normal person! I did it with a hat to live this situation because I think for sure we will remember this for the rest of our lives.
“I want to give condolences from me, from the club, from the players to the Royal family. Then football has to go ahead and we will do it, but I think the Premier League made an important decision to stop football and show respect for the death of the Queen.
“We are talking about a situation that will find it in the story of the future. To stay here in this moment and to live this moment here is for sure a sad moment, but at the same time it is a special moment because we are talking about the death of the Queen.
“She was 96 years old and honestly for me it was very difficult to believe she was dead, because in your mind you think that the Queen was immortal. To live this situation in London, in this specific moment, for sure I will keep this in my heart, in my mind for the rest of my life.”
Conte was joined at his press conference by Eric Dier, who grew up in Portugal and played for Sporting before he joined Tottenham in 2014.
The centre-back said via a translator: “It is very special to me to be back here. I spent a long time here in Sporting and it took some time to come back.
“I would rather play against another team in Portugal but we can’t do anything about that and I am very happy to be here.”
Dier’s fine form under Conte has contributed towards talk he is due to be recalled by England boss Gareth Southgate for this month’s games with Italy and Germany.
The defender has not represented his country in almost two years but shunned talk of getting back into the Three Lions set-up and instead backed ex-Spurs youngster Marcus Edwards to force his way into Southgate’s plans if he continues his fine form at Sporting.
“I am happy with how the season has started. For me there is always space for improvement and I’m trying my best to keep doing that,” Dier explained.
“To be honest I’m not thinking about anything else other than the game tomorrow and trying to play well for Tottenham.”
On Edwards, Dier added: “Well, it depends on him. I think he is a very talented player, he is very strong and yes it would be great if he could make it to the national team. I mean if he keeps evolving like that, I think he could get to the national team.”
Enfield-born Edwards left Tottenham in 2019 and, after a successful spell with Vitoria Guimaraes, was signed by Sporting in January.
The former England Under-21 international has continued to impress in Lisbon.
Sporting boss Ruben Amorim said: “I think Marcus is a very talented player.
“He has all of the talent and he can get much better and get to the English national team. He is already becoming more consistent but he has to focus more on training and everything that is around it.
“Football is not just about the Sunday matches, it’s everything in between but I trust him a lot. I know he can grow a lot and get to the national team.”