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