National Football Centre opens in Burton

The long awaited National Football Centre in Burton-upon-Trent has been officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Their Royal Highnesses was given a tour of the main facilities on the 330 site.

William and Kate joined England manager Roy Hodgson and his squad at the Football Association's (FA) new £105 million St George's Park complex which aims to produce coaches and players to rival World and European champions Spain. 

Household names like Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard broke off from a training session to chat to the royals who toured the 330-acre site near Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, for two hours.

On a practice pitch, the Duke and Duchess shared a joke with Gerrard, captain of the England team which plays a World Cup qualifier match against San Marino on Friday, and also met Ashley Cole at the centre of a twitter row after posting a tweet attacking the Football Association.

 In a speech to mark the opening of the new complex, William praised the development saying its benefits would be felt far beyond the world of football. 

Speaking before unveiling a plaque with his wife to officially launch the site, he said: ''St George's Park, and the concept that underpins it, is something totally new. It will be far more than just a world-class facility for training our future world-beating national team. 

''It is more than just the university from which thousands of highly qualified coaches will graduate. It is also a magnificent example of the sort of social initiative that brings opportunity and purpose to wider British life. 

''It will provide employment and a social hub for local people and, through the thousands of volunteers on which coaching relies, it will foster community spirit, purpose and hope throughout England.'' 

The FA hopes St George's Park, where coaches will be coached, will improve the quality of football leaders in the dugout and in turn boost the performance of players on the pitch, both for their clubs and the national side. 

All of England's 24 national teams will use the site as their training base ahead of international fixtures.

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