I was delighted to see the Football Association’s new centre of excellence officially opened earlier this week by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife, Kate.
Not only am I a Royal fan who was proud to be at the first tea party at Buckingham Palace hosted by Kate earlier this year. I’m a football fanatic too, who bought tickets at the recent Olympics for all of Team GB’s games had they topped their group and progressed through the competition to the final as I expected them to.
But also my perimeter fencing company Zaun has been part of the team over the past year, building the £105m St George’s Park complex in Burton on Trent in Staffordshire that will house all 24 England teams, from junior to senior levels.
The FA, of which Prince William is president, certainly has been raving about it. It will help raise standards in the game. The manager believes, as do England’s senior men’s squad, which has been training there this week as they prepare for their World Cup qualifiers against San Marino at Wembley on Friday before a trip to Poland next Tuesday.
England manager Roy Hodgson said the facility would inspire future generations. In contrast, captain Steven Gerrard said he was ‘blown away’ and that ‘England’s players can have no excuses if they fail to fulfil their potential now.
‘We’ve got the best stadium in the world, and now we have got the best training facilities,’ he said.
The centre of excellence houses 11 outdoor pitches – five of them floodlit and with under-soil heating – a full-size indoor 3G artificial pitch and an altitude chamber to replicate various playing conditions.