Club Website editor Dan Pope gets a tour of the FA's new national football centre by David Sheepshanks, Chairman of St George's Park, who talks about its importance to English football at all levels of the game.
When the Football Association purchased a 330-acre site on the outskirts of Burton-Upon-Trent, France were reigning World and European Champions.
The year was 2001 and, as France reaped the dividends of their national football centre in Clairefontaine, opened in 1988, the FA had a vision of creating their own.
The site was landscaped and pitches were laid but plans were shelved amid financial concerns and, as the FA rebuilt Wembley Stadium, the Staffordshire plot lay dormant. So, one could argue, did English football.
Now, some 11 years on, the English game can look forward once more. A new, state-of-the-art, £100m facility signals the start of a new chapter for English football. St George's Park, the FA's national football centre, is up and running.
Twenty-four England teams will call St George's Park their home. The men's under-17s were first to train at the centre this week, with Roy Hodgson's men due on site to prepare for their October World Cup qualifier with San Marino.
At their disposal will be a full-size indoor 3G pitch, 11 outdoor pitches including an exact replica of Wembley and a cutting-edge sports medicine and science centre, all within a few steps of their room at the Hilton, one of two hotels on site.
A tour of St George's Park reveals first class facilities throughout - the equal of any club in the country - with an attention to detail that aims to inspire. Quotes from sporting legends take their place alongside iconic imagery on the walls and corridors as you move between rooms, suites and pitches named after some of English football's finest.
Training on the Sir Alf Ramsey pitch may inspire Wayne Rooney and his team mates to greater things, but it's the centre's role as the FA's new home of coach education that should mark the lasting benefits to English football.
Read the full article in August's edition of The Clubhouse - click here to view.
What does St George's Park mean to you and to English football? Are you hoping to attend a course there? Do you expect the centre to raise the bar for football coaching across the country?
We want to hear from you so please have your say in our comments section below.
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