Roy Hodgson admitted that the occasion of his final home game in charge of Crystal Palace somewhat overshadowed the football as his side lost 3-1 to Arsenal.
Christian Benteke looked to have salvaged a proud point for Hodgson’s men when his diving header cancelled out Nicolas Pepe’s opener. But Gabriel Martinelli and Pepe netted in injury time to keep Arsenal’s European qualification hopes alive with a win.
Hodgson, who was given a guard of honour before the game and gave an emotional speech to the Selhurst Park crowd afterwards, said that it was not easy to concentrate on the match as his managerial career neared its end.
“It’s been a very long journey,” he told BT Sport.
“It was an emotional night tonight. I think the players have done exceptionally well to deal with the circumstances.
“It was a bitter disappointment that we couldn’t at least go away with the draw because I thought our second-half performance merited that.
“It was probably the strangest feeling I’ve had in a dugout for a long, long time. We’re all human, we try to make the best of situations and say the right things and do the right things, but you can’t get away from the fact you’re a human being with emotions.”
Hodgson spoke about the experience of taking charge of the club he watched as a young boy, having been born and raised in Palace’s locality of Croydon.
He replaced Frank de Boer as Palace manager in September 2017 before steering the club to 11th place in the Premier League in his first season, despite them having lost their first seven games.
“It’s been very special,” added Hodgson.
“It’s been not an easy ride; keeping Palace in the Premier League is certainly not one of the easier jobs around, but it has been a real privilege to do it.
“It’s quite strange that the circle that has lasted so long ends up here now with the club of my boyhood.”