Mike Smith, the FA’s Operations Manager at St George’s Park says the National Football Centre will go from strength to strength after helping to achieve youth World Cup success in 2017.
England’s youth World Cup and European Championship success in 2017 is only a sign of things to come according to FA operations manager at St George’s Park, Mike Smith who says he “can only see that happening more in the future.”
Mike is very proud that the Burton-based centre has helped the England U17 and U20 secure World Cup triumphs.
The 37-year-old operations manager said: “With the young age groups winning the World Cups and European Championships this year, it’s been a great success.”
Speaking inside the Futsal Arena, which now hosts England internationals at the National Football Centre, Mike says, “the site has been busier than ever” as “most of the Premier League teams have come through us”, such as “Tottenham, Liverpool (and) Chelsea” when facing East Midlands teams like Derby County or Leicester City.
While the pre-season visits of European giants Barcelona, Galatasarary and Monaco have excited Burton locals.
St George’s Park celebrated an anniversary in 2017, marking 5 years since Prince William and Kate opened the Burton site in September 2012.
Funny training session for FC Barcelona as they wrap up training camp at St. George’s Park pic.twitter.com/q9Mx2R3EQ3"
— Muller_jnr (@Dj_MulleR1) August 10, 2016
Despite the success, the FA are not standing still, as Pitch 2, St. George’s Park’s grass roots community pitch, “has had a brand new 3G Euro Pro Surface” which Mike beams, “you could play internationals on”.
Other site improvements include, Pitch 4’s upgrade to SISGrass, which according to Mike is a “fibre type grass” which will improve durability.
Currently, Mike works with just under 200 staff at the National Football Centre, and the on-site Hilton Hotel, which is owned by the FA, but managed by Hilton, has another 200 workers.
The Hilton Hotel is where the England national teams stay when on training camps before international matches.
Like, the men’s senior team, who stay for two to three nights, then travel down to London to play home fixtures at Wembley Stadium.
Future projects include the redevelopment of the main football centre.
Spire Fitness help athletes like England footballers train, build fitness and recover in state-of-the-art facilities.
Chris Scott the manager of Spire Fitness said there is “a £3m underwater treadmill on site which is used by professional footballers from the England men’s senior team.”
First, Paul Simpson’s Men’s U20’s enjoyed World Cup glory in South Korea in June.
Congratulations to @England U20's who are World Cup winners. What an achievement lads 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) June 11, 2017
While in October, Steve Cooper’s England U17’s lifted another World Cup title in India, trashing Spain 5-2 in the final.
The BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, Manchester City’s Phil Foden won the Player of the Tournament award, while Liverpool youngster Rhian Brewster picked up the Golden Boot, scoring 8 goals, including the equaliser in the final, after the Young Lions came back from 2-0 down.
The U17’s avenged a summer European Championship final defeat to overcome Spain in New Delhi.
More success at European level, the U19’s Men’s side took the Euros title against Portugal in Georgia.
The July tournament saw Keith Downing’s side overcome Europe’s elite, with star names like Fulham’s highly rated full-back Ryan Sessegnon.
Elsewhere, England’s U21’s fell to familiar foe in Poland at the European Championships, losing in the semi-finals to Germany on penalties, again.
Though, despite a heart-breaking defeat, Aidy Boothroyd’s side enjoyed a successful tournament, with Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham a shining light.
The striker now on loan at Swansea City, has since earned two full England caps, as he featured in two high profile friendlies against Germany and Brazil.
Despite the controversy surrounding the England Women’s senior team, Mark Sampson’s Lionesses reached the semi-finals of the European Championships, losing to hosts and eventual winners Holland.
Currently, St George’s Park is home to 28 England national teams and has been key in the development of each age group, plus several Premier League and European club side visits, in pre-season and during the campaign, when teams like Arsenal face Derby, Leicester or Nottingham Forest, according to Mike.
Check out this on the teams that have trained at St George’s Park and the fans that have got to meet their idols, like Didier Drogba and Rafa Benitez.
Whether the success of the young teams will translate into Men’s senior team progress at this Summer’s World Cup in Russia remains to be seen.
But, the signs of a bright future for English football are there, with St George’s Park playing a key part in any success.