Saint-Denis: France's run to the Euro 2016 final on home soil has given the country "an escape" after the horror of last November's Paris attacks, captain Hugo Lloris said on Saturday.
The rolling attacks on the French capital, claimed by the Islamic State group, left 130 people dead and led to calls for the tournament to be cancelled.
The France team also experienced pre-competition problems, with striker Karim Benzema dropped over a blackmail plot involving team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, but they have managed to reach Sunday's final against Portugal.
"Of course we've had some very difficult times this year, both with those tragic events, but also with events that have gone on off the field," goalkeeper Lloris told a press conference at Stade de France.
"But we're even prouder to be on the pitch, to feel the entire French population behind us, to feel this happiness which is shared between the players and the French people.
"That gives us strength and is lovely to see. But we still have that final step to take to finish this competition in the best possible fashion.
"The French people really needed to escape via this competition, and sport has this strength: to unite people.
"We are currently experiencing that. We still have one step to take, the hardest one, but one that's worth it."