St. George’s Park has been singing along to the tune of a Caribbean beat this week after welcoming the Montserrat national football team for a four-day training camp.
The Emerald Boys, who are the first CONCACAF member nation to visit the centre, are in Burton preparing for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Curacao in March.
And while, at first glance, choosing a training base over 4,000 miles away from home may seem a little out of the ordinary, it is a more than appropriate choice.
"We are preparing for the World Cup qualifiers but all the Montserrat national team players are actually living and playing in the UK, so we found it fitting to have camps in the UK and we are happy to be here," explained team manager, Lenny Hewlett.
"It has been brilliant since we arrived. It is top class here and we couldn’t ask for anything better.
"All the players have loved it so far. The facility is great, the pitches are great. It is just a great experience being here."
To have all of their players plying their trade in English leagues is a unique feature of the Montserrat national team and one that can be linked to a pivotal moment in the nation’s history.
- Manager: Lenny Hewlett
- FIFA Ranking: 170
- Registered Players: 200
- Association Founded: 1994
- Next Match: Curacao (A), March 27
In 1995, after lying dormant for centuries, the Soufrière Hills volcano erupted, devastating two-thirds of the island and forcing most of the original population to leave for the UK, the United States and other parts of the Caribbean.
Two decades on, a new generation of Montserratians have begun to emerge and they are reconnecting with the national team.
"We have just about 5,000 people in Montserrat," explained Vincent Cassell, president of Montserrat FA.
"90 per cent of the population in 1995 relocated to the UK here and a lot of the lads who came to England did so when they were about two, three years old.
"But every day we are finding more and more players, who are either related to Montserratians or realise that they came to England at a very minor age, coming forward now."
This year Montserrat celebrates the 20th anniversary of the catastrophe, with football at the very heart of the nation’s celebrations.
The visit to St. George’s Park, as Cassell explains, was planned to provide the boost the players need to make the most out of their upcoming "international endeavours".
"This year we are celebrating what one could consider to be 20 years resilience of a nation," he added.
"It is 20 years since the volcanic eruption. It continues to erupt in the background, but two decades is a landmark achievement for us.
"And in football we really want to celebrate it with some good results in our international endeavours and have some games here in the UK.
"Being at St. George’s Park will boost the confidence of the guys that [Curacao] isn’t just another game and to help them see that the organisers behind Montserrat football are very serious about them because they are here to train in the premier facilities in the UK."