Southampton's players and staff did not arrive home from Israel until late on Friday night, after an unusual hold up on their way back to Bournemouth airport: the funeral of iconic Israeli politician Shimon Peres.
Claude Puel's side drew 0-0 at Hapoel Be'er Sheva on Thursday night, taking a crucial point in their campaign in Group K of the Europa League. Knowing that it would be a long journey back to Hampshire, Saints stayed in Be'er Sheva for an early morning recovery session on Friday. They then had a short flight back to Tel Aviv and were scheduled to fly from David Ben Gurion airport back to Bournemouth at 11am on Friday morning.
The problem for Southampton was Shimon Peres' funeral, held at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on Friday morning. It was attended by world leaders, including Prince Charles, Tony Blair, David Cameron and Barack Obama.
Flying them all out of Israel on the Friday afternoon was literally a military operation. President Obama was only on the ground in Israel for five hours before flying back on Air Force One, taking former US president Bill Clinton with him too.
While this happened, Southampton's players and staff had to wait at the airport. Only when Obama and other dignitaries had gone could Saints fly back. They did not depart until 5pm local time, more than six hours later than planned. They did not land in Bournemouth until after 8pm on the Friday night, 24 hours after their match.
This meant that Puel could only put his players through the lightest of sessions on Saturday before taking his team to the King Power Stadium to face reigning champions Leicester City. Puel made seven changes to the side who drew in Israel and they had the better of a 0-0 draw.Reuse content