‘Best facilities I’ve ever seen’: Stunned Manchester United hero Gary Neville praises England’s St George’s Park

By Dean Wilkins

Manchester United hero and England coach Gary Neville is hailing the FA’s new training centre as ‘the greatest facility’ he’s ever seen.

The 37-year-old was called up for England duty for the first time in five years to join Roy Hodgson’s backroom staff after an impressive stint on Sky Sports as a match pundit.

And with 85 caps under his belt, eight Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a 20-year career in top flight football the ex-fullback has used first-class facilities across the world – but nothing has impressed him as much as St George’s Park.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have played at a very good football club with great facilities,” he told the association’s official website.

“I’ve been to Arsenal, Chelsea and other great football facilities around the country, but I’ve never seen anything as good as this.

“It’s been the vision of every football club at the top level to have a facility of this type and they’ve never achieved it.

“But now the England football team, rightly so, have got something like this. I’m stunned.”

The new £100million complex will be the home for England’s 24 national teams, including training, medical, rehabilitation, accommodation and world-class science facilities.

Hodgson takes his squad to their new training base for the first time as they prepare for their World Cup qualifier clash against San Marino at Wembley next Friday.

The 330-acre site will also be the host of the FA’s National Coach Education courses and Neville – who holds a UEFA A licence and will begin working towards his Pro licence next year – praised the importance of developing the game on home soil.

FIRST LOOK: Find your way around England’s £100million training base

“I was fortunate I had good coaches and I had good understanding from my parents, but it’s not always the case,” he added.

“I think we can produce a lot more players if we had better coaches. This facility is an absolutely incredible opportunity for our great coach educators to deliver better courses, more courses.

“I’m overwhelmed by the quality that I’ve seen.”

With his entire career spent under Sir Alex Ferguson and his coaching team, Neville has gained experience from the world’s most-successful mentors – now he is excited to be working with Hodgson and his assistant Ray Lewington.

“To be part of an England set-up working underneath Roy and Ray, who have got great experience, it is a privilege and honour and something I’m really enjoying. I feel as though I’m learning all the time,” he said.

“The best coaches I ever played under and saw were the ones actually weren’t the best players, but who worked hard to get to the top – the likes of Eric Harrison [former Manchester United youth team coach], and Steve McClaren.

“Even Hodgson and Sir Alex weren’t what you’d call elite players but they were the hardest working coaches who came through the system and the ones who never tried to short-cut.

“Working under Roy is fantastic because he’s got so much experience and sheds a different light on things. I’m a little terrier at times and just need calming down.

“There are people above you who have been there, seen it and done it. I’m on an education myself and I want to go through that journey.”

Picture courtesy of Martin Handley, flickr

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