As play-off sells out the U21s go out into the community.
Watch a video of the visit now by clicking on the link to the right.
When the headmaster usually says it’s time to go home, the roar from the children would be one of joy. However, it was just the opposite on Wednesday as the kids at Taverham Junior School, near Norwich, were enjoying their afternoon in the company of four special guests.
England Under-21s face an important Euro 2011 play-off against Romania, which will be played in front of a sell-out crowd at the City’s Carrow Road Stadium on Friday. Ahead of the game Coach Stuart Pearce and players Jordan Henderson, Jason Steele and Nathan Delfouneso dropped in to take part in the school’s PE session, organised by the Norwich City FC Football in the Community team.
And the games, which were not just focused on football, were enjoyed as much by the England quartet as the Taverham pupils.
Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jason Steele enjoyed going back to the playground. “It’s only a 15-minute drive from the school so we have come here to help the kids with a few extra-curricular activities," he explained.
“It’s been good fun and it’s nice to see all the youngsters enjoying themselves. We’re in the hotel for quite a long time so it’s nice to get out and see some smiling faces in a relaxed atmosphere.”
And the visit was very well-received by all at the school, with Headmaster Paul Stanley saying that the players are great role-models for the children.
“There’s a real buzz around the place today,” said the Ipswich Town fan. “It’s great to have such high-profile players here along with Stuart Pearce. We’re all really excited, the staff as much as the kids, if not more so."
He added: “Stuart is a great role-model for us. This term’s theme is about perseverance and bouncing back, and he’s a great example of that.”
“Sometimes you think it might be a bit of a chore for the players, but they’ve really enjoyed it and it’s great to see. I’m sure they’ll be a positive example for the children here.
“Our link with Norwich City’s FITC has been going on for a number of years and sport plays a huge part at this schools. It’s a great way for kids to get specialised coaching from top quality coaches.”
Aston Villa striker Nathan Delfouneso was beaming as he gave tips during the football drills. “It’s nice to see all the children here happy and to be able to inspire them,” he said. “They’ve enjoyed their day and it was good for them to have players that they’ve seen on TV come into their school.
“It puts you in a nice mood to know that you’ve made all these people here happy. It gives you a buzz so hopefully we can take that into the game on Friday.”
Following the session outside, the players and kids headed into the assembly hall where the rest of the school had gathered.
Pearce was greeted with wild applause as he was introduced to the youngsters, who range from Year 3 to Year 6, and was on hand to present 16 awards to the best performers during the half-term coaching sessions.
“I’m sure there’ll be a large queue of autograph-hunters, children and teachers, and we’ll look to get some hints and tips for our school football teams, too,” added Mr Stanley.
And as the assembly came to a close he told the children, “we need to get you all back to class as it’s nearly home time,” a long grown bellowed out.
But their disappointment at waving goodbye to their Three Lions heroes was well disguised as they gave a rousing rendition of the school anthem; “We are the children of Taverham School.”
Delfouneso added: “I was impressed with the song; it had a nice little beat to it so it would be nice to hear it again on Friday.” Tickets for the game have now sold, but for fans who still want to see the game, it will be screened live on ESPN.