David Beckham has revealed that Zinedine Zidane pulled out of Saturday’s Unicef Match for Children at Old Trafford because he was so devastated by the tragic terrorist attacks on Paris on Friday.
France icon Zidane was set to travel from Madrid to Manchester on Saturday but decided against doing so the night before after learning of the events unfolding in his nation’s capital.
And Beckham was understanding of the World Cup winner’s choice and expressed his sympathy with his former Real Madrid team-mate.
“I understood why Zizou took the decision not to play,” Beckham told reporters at Old Trafford.
“He was very respectful to me after the promise to play but I totally understood.
“He’s a friend first off and also a very passioante man. Being French, it obviously hit him very hard last night.
“On behalf of myself, the managers, the players and everyone involved today, we all send condolences to the people who have lost loved ones in Paris.
“Our hearts go out to everyone in Paris.”
The ex-Manchester United midfielder revealed that there was a slight concern that Saturday’s game would be cancelled in the wake of the traumatic attacks.
“There was a slight concern once the news hit last night. It’s terribly devastating to see the scenes that we all saw. Unfortunately we see those scenes around the world. It’s devastating.”
Another former France international, Patrick Vieira, also withdrew from the charity clash after being left in a state of shock by the Islamic State-organised bombings and shootings that resulted in the deaths of 128 people.
Beckham, of course, finished his professional career with Paris Saint-Germain and he was devastated to see a city he retains such affection for traumatised by the attacks.
“Paris has always been one of my most favourite cities in the world. I have great memories of Paris over the years, not just from my time with PSG.
“I played my 100th England game there and the support I had from the French people was incredible that day. I got a standing ovation when I walked off the pitch.
“Then to go back to PSG and end my career there, winning their first championship in 19 years… it’s always been a special place.
“It’s sad to see what happened yesterday and, unfortunately, it’s happening around the world as well.”
There was speculation that Tuesday’s friendly between England and France would be called off due to the attacks, but it has been confirmed that it will go ahead as scheduled, though Beckham says he is not entirely sure if it should be played.
“I don’t know, that’s not my decision,” he added. “I don’t like to get involved in politics; I don’t know enough about it.
“I think, if the game goes ahead, it shows some power that the game has, but we have to show huge respect to the people who have lost loved ones.”