It may not have ended how most of us would have liked, but England’s Euro 2020 run did give the country a huge boost, and saw the team make its first major international final in 55 years.
And if enough time has now passed to erase that penalty shoot-out disappointment, there is a chance for footy fans to discover a little more about a place widely regarded as one of the secrets behind the England team’s recent success.
Set in 330 acres of rolling countryside close to Burton upon Trent, St. George’s Park is home to the Football Association’s National Football Centre – with a Hilton Hotel and world-class training facilities for the national team, who stay and play here on a regular basis.
It’s where England’s Euro 2020 squad were based for pre-tournament final training before matches during this summer’s Euros.
And you can follow in our footballing heroes footsteps by not only staying in the same hotel – a four-star experience in its own right – but also tour the state-of-the-art training facilities with group tours on selected dates throughout the year.
The St. George’s Park tour offers the chance to go behind-the-scenes at The FA’s National Football Centre, home to all 28 England teams as they train ahead of international fixtures.
See the elite outdoor pitches including the Wembley replica pitch, as well as the Sir Alf Ramsey indoor 3G pitch that has been built to a FIFA 2-star standard, as well as elite changing room, autograph wall, and areas of the hotel where the teams stay. (Tour costs £10 per person when available, https://bit.ly/3rkARm7).
The footballing theme is never far away here, and the hotel itself has cabinets of soccer memorabilia and giant action photos on the walls – while guests can kick off their day with a dip in the pool at the onsite health club and spa, or relax with family over lunch at the Cross Bar, which also offers imaginative cocktails and alcoholic refreshments.
On the edge of the National Forest, the hotel is also handy for visiting some of Staffordshire’s top attractions – including the home of Britain’s largest brewing collection, and a chance to enjoy some quiet reflection at a moving footballing memorial at the UK’s year-round centre of Remembrance.
Just 10 miles from the hotel is the National Memorial Arboretum where among around 25,000 maturing trees and nearly 400 significant memorials is one commemorating the famous 1914 Christmas truce when British and German soldiers played a game of festive football (https://www.thenma.org.uk).
And back in Burton on Trent, raise a glass to England’s journey at The National Brewery Centre, which celebrates the town’s brewing heritage. Known worldwide as the home of pale ale brewing, in its heyday during the late 19th century Burton on Trent brewed a quarter of all beer sold in Britain. (www.nationalbrewerycentre.co.uk).
If you need a little more adrenaline-fuelled excitement, Staffordshire’s popular theme parks, Alton Towers Resort and Drayton Manor Resort, are also close by.
Rooms at Hilton at St. George’s Park start from £84 per night (www.stgeorgespark.hilton.com).
General tourist information about visiting, and staying in, Staffordshire is available at www.enjoystaffordshire.com.
Photo: Hilton at St. George’s Park