Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte has revealed that he paid a visit to Buckingham Palace during a heartfelt tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.
The UK’s longest reigning monarch died at the age of 96 on Thursday afternoon, which has led to an outpouring of tributes from up and down the United Kingdom.
Premier League matches and games at other levels were postponed at the weekend as a mark of respect, and the Queen‘s state funeral will take place on Monday September 19 at Westminster Abbey.
Since Her Majesty’s death, members of the general public have flocked en masse to London to pay their respects, and Conte was among those to visit Buckingham Palace over the past few days.
Speaking ahead of Tottenham’s Champions League clash with Sporting Lisbon, the Italian affirmed that he would keep the “immortal” Queen’s life in his heart for the rest of his life.
“For sure what happened in the last few days in England is something extraordinary,” football.london quotes Conte as saying at his pre-game press conference.
“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 and [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 be 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.”
Football prepares to resume with Champions League and EFL action this week, as Tottenham aim to build on their opening 2-0 Champions League win over Marseille against Ruben Amorim‘s Sporting.
Richarlison scored both goals in that game, and Conte has admitted that he faces a difficult selection dilemma with the Brazilian, Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski jostling for places.
“Up front, we have four players. For me especially it’s very difficult right now to drop one of these four players, but I have to make the best decision for the team, also for the players,” Conte added.
“Sometimes it’s better to rest and don’t start a game, to come in and play only 20 or 30 minutes and then play the following games. You try to make the players happy, but big clubs have a big squad, a deep squad.”
Tottenham will then return to domestic action against Leicester City on Saturday, with the Premier League confirming on Monday that the game would go ahead as scheduled.