MY PARIS TERROR: ‘Special Branch boarded my plane’

Jamie Hoyland
Jamie Hoyland

An ex-footballer will be back at work in another European stadium on the 17th November – just days after escaping unharmed from the Stade de France suicide bombings.

Jamie Hoyland, 49, will be scouting for the Football Association in Hanover for the Germany versus Holland friendly match tomorrow night.

Crowds observce a minute's silence at the Place de la Republique, Paris

Crowds observce a minute's silence at the Place de la Republique, Paris

He was in the Stade de France on Friday night when suicide bombers targeted the stadium, sparking panic among 70,000 people in the crowd, as revealed exclusively in The Gazette on Saturday.

The former Burnley, Sheffield United and Bury star, who was a youth team coach at Preston North End from 2006-2012, managed to flee back to his hotel before flying home on Saturday morning.

He said: “I was given the option by the FA not to go but I want to. You just have to get on with it. We can’t let these things stop us living our lives.

“I can understand why the England v France game is going ahead but I must admit I am surprised. It will be a very difficult occasion for the French players.”

Since Friday, it has emerged the bombers had tried to get into the Stade de France in an attempt to blow themselves up among the crowd. They detonated their bombs outside the ground.

Jamie, a key fundraiser for the Trust set up in the name of former Pool defender Gary Parkinson, said: “I dread to think what would have happened if they had gone off inside. Those scenes of people panicking and running back into the stadium will never leave me. But now we know it could have been worse had they got inside.

“It’s unimaginable.”

Officers from Scotland Yard boarded Jamie’s flight when it landed in Manchester at 11.30am on Saturday to ask anyone, via the captain, if they had been caught up in the terror incidents. He spoke to officers briefly before being allowed to go home.

Jamie said: “Charles de Gaulle Airport was strangely quiet, I expected tanks and soldiers everywhere. I just wanted to get home and was looking up at the screen praying my flight wasn’t cancelled.

“When we landed Special Branch boarded the plane to ask if anyone who had been in the vicinity of the attacks to make themselves known. I spoke to them and told them what I saw, they asked me if I had seen anything suspicious. I was only there five minutes then they let me go home. It’s all sinking in now but I’m still in shock to be honest.”