Shoot­ing stars

FEVER PITCH: Matt Reeder and fam­ily sam­ple a spe­cial week­end at the new Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion head­quar­ters in Bur­ton-on-trent.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Travel -

THIS was my big chance to im­press. An op­por­tu­nity to show just what I could do. It may have ar­rived a lit­tle later in life than I had hoped, but if I could just put on a good show, then all those un­ful­filled child­hood wishes could at least have a hope of fi­nally coming true.

Ev­ery foot­ball-mad boy in Eng­land nur­tures dreams of play­ing for his coun­try, des­per­ate for a chance to prove him­self wor­thy of join­ing the likes of Steven Ger­rard, Wayne Rooney and Theo Wal­cott.

For this 38-year-old, such am­bi­tions have long since flown. Sadly, the English foot­balling pub­lic will never know just how good I could have been. But the de­sire to prove my­self burns just as bright, and this was my time... par­tic­u­larly as I had the chance to show off in front of former Eng­land man­ager Gra­ham Tay­lor.

I had ar­rived with the fam­ily at the new multi-mil­lion pound Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion head­quar­ters in Bur­ton-on-Trent the night be­fore.

As guests of the ad­join­ing Hil­ton at St Ge­orge’s, we had al­ready been treated to some fan­tas­tic hos­pi­tal­ity.

The five of us, in­clud­ing my wife Clare and the three chil­dren, Han­nah, 10, Ben­jamin, 9, and Char­lotte,7, were all lov­ing life in this brand spank­ing new com­plex.

Lux­u­ri­ous, state-of-the-art rooms were ac­com­pa­nied by a sim­i­larly im­pres­sive swim­ming pool, gym and spa. The food had been deca­dent in the swish, stylish restau­rant and the staff both wel­com­ing and friendly.

Come the next morn­ing, how­ever, and it was time to fo­cus. St Ge­orge’s Park is the new home of English foot­ball. A world-class train­ing fa­cil­ity, a na­tional cen­tre for sports medicine and sci­ence, and a much-needed and longed-for base for our na­tional game. All 24 na­tional team age-groups now use the fa­cil­i­ties at St Ge­orge’s Park, train­ing at the FA HQ, while sleep­ing and eat­ing in ei­ther the Hil­ton or Hamp­ton ho­tels on site.

Come Fe­bru­ary, it will be the turn of Roy Hodg­son’s se­nior side to once again ex­pe­ri­ence the de­lights of this out­stand­ing cen­tre of ex­cel­lence.

As well as a base for foot­ballers, the ho­tel is ea­ger to at­tract cus­tom from the busi­ness com­mu­nity and by pro­mot­ing it­self in the short breaks and leisure mar­ket. It is like no ho­tel I have ever stayed at be­fore. Pic­tures of Eng­land foot­ball stars past and present, male and fe­male, fill you with a sense that you are in­deed stay­ing some­where spe­cial... some­where priv­i­leged.

Guests can eas­ily or­gan­ise tours of the FA side of the com­plex, there are dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences on of­fer rang­ing from a sim­ple walk-through of the fa­cil­i­ties right up to a full-blown train­ing ses­sion and

ON TAR­GET: Tak­ing part in the goal­shoot­ing prac­tice at the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion head­quar­ters in Bur­ton-on-Trent.

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