St George’s Park key in World Cup success

England World Cup 'success down to' St George's Park

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 U17 World Cup trophy, won in India by the England men’s team in October. The men’s youth team World Cup success capped a successful 2017 for English football.
The U20s World Cup winning medal and shirt, signed by the players, including Premier League players Dominic Solanke, Ademola Lookman.and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

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.

St George’s Park has had a busy first 5 years, as shown by this infographic (credit – Emily Liles, FA).
The Autograph Wall at St George’s Park which has been signed by players like Lionel Messi.

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 FA, FIFA and UEFA flags fly outside the Hilton Hotel at St George’s Park.

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.

Wembley Stadium in London hosts England internationals, plus FA Cup and League Cup Finals.

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.”

Perform by Spire Fitness at St George’s Park looks after world class athletes like England footballers.

First, Paul Simpson’s Men’s U20’s enjoyed World Cup glory in South Korea in June.

Premier League stars like final match-winner Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke led the Young Lions to victory to the delight of England’s record goal scorer Wayne Rooney.

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.

U19 Euros Trophy, won in July by England’s men.

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.

St George’s Park has hosted 28 England teams since it opened in 2012 (credit – Emily Liles, FA). St George’s Park celebrated an anniversary in 2017, marking 5 years since Prince William and Kate opened the Burton site in September 2012.
Jack Wilshere at St George’s Park ahead of Derby County U23s vs Arsenal U23s in Premier League 2 Division 1.

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.