English football will celebrate a landmark moment next week with the opening of St. George’s Park, The FA’s new national football centre, in Burton upon Trent.
Never before has the England team had a training centre they can exclusively call home. £100m of investment has changed that, and the Three Lions now have a home to equal any high-performance facility in the world.
The new complex, which is landscaped into 330-acres of picturesque Staffordshire countryside, will be the base for all England’s 24 teams and will help develop future generations of technically excellent young English players.
The ethos of the facility is very much about long-term development and St. George’s Park will be the new centre for English coaching.
England Manager, Roy Hodgson, and his senior squad will train there for the first time next week to mark its official opening by FA President The Duke of Cambridge on 9 October.
The Three Lions will train on an identical replica of the Wembley pitch, one of twelve pitches onsite, as they prepare for the World Cup 2014 qualifier against San Marino.
The immaculate playing surfaces are complemented by an array of gymnasiums, rehabilitation, medical and sports science areas. Every aspect of preparation is catered for at the complex. Two Hilton hotels ensure valuable time isn’t wasted travelling to and from training.
The football fraternity have lauded the project. England’s 1966 World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst, who has a performance analysis room named in his honour, said: “It’s absolutely fabulous, no words can describe it."
Those from outside the footballing world have been suitably impressed too.
“The very best elite facilities stand for no compromise and success, St. George’s Park has that feel about it,” enthused Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport, Olympic Legacy and Tourism.
The design and specification of the facility comes after exhaustive worldwide research into high performance training environments. FA staff visited Clairefontaine (France), Zeist (Holland) and Coverciano (Italy) as well as many other facilities from both sport and business.
St. George's Park chairman David Sheepshanks said: “A decade ago our then Technical Director, Howard Wilkinson, spoke of the laudable ambition to build the Oxford and Cambridge of Coach Education and now we have that opportunity."
Sheepshanks is aware, however, that it is the staff that will make the facility a success. The appointment of West Brom’s Dan Ashworth as FA Head of Elite Development is a significant step.
Ashworth will have an office at St. George’s Park, alongside Hodgson.
Sheepshanks added: “Great facilities are one thing. However, it is the people who live and work here who will really bring it to life and in particular the most important group of all, the coaches.”
The opportunity to bring coaches from all levels of the game together to share ideas and watch other coaches work will create a coaching culture to develop The Future Game, The FA’s playing and coaching philosophy.
Look out for further insights into St. George’s Park this week on TheFA.com. For more about St.George’s Park visit the official website here.
Play Take a closer look around the amazing SGP facilities and its stunning surroundings.
English football will celebrate on 9 October when St. George's Park officially opens