Sheepshanks backs new centre to deliver

02 July 2012 03:48

David Sheepshanks believes the National Football Centre (NFC) in Burton-upon-Trent can help England emulate treble winners Spain and eventually become the best side in the world.

NFC chairman Sheepshanks is confident the 330-acre St George's Park complex will produce more high-quality coaches and in turn better players to give England the best chance of becoming number one at international level.

He said: "We have to believe that in St George's Park we are investing in the future and the long-term success of the England side. We are top eight in the FIFA rankings today and we have to believe we can become top four, top two and even one day the best. That is one of the things St George's Park is all about."

Similar long-term investment by France and Spain at their Clairefontaine base and Madrid academy respectively has borne fruit, with both having enjoyed international success in recent years.

Sheepshanks made his claims as the official handover of the centre to the Football Association took place from the site developers - Bowmer and Kirkland - just 17 months after building work got under way.

He added: "Basically what it is about is that better coaches make better players. The teacher has a defining influence. We know that from schools. Good teachers excite them and, when it's teachers they don't enjoy, they tend to turn off. It is exactly the same in sport and football.

"As things stand Spain have 25,000 UEFA A, B and pro-licence coaches, Italy 30,000 and Germany 35,000 while England have less than 6,000. Effectively England is five and six to one down ratio-wise on any other major soccer nation in terms of qualified coaches at that level.

"We hope in the next five years to increase that number very substantially and a significant part of that will be via St George's Park."

Sheepshanks is unimpressed by the critics who claim England will never be able to produce a side of the same quality of Spain who have won the 2008 and 2012 Euros and 2010 World Cup.

He said: "'Never' is a really dangerous word. I have heard all these headlines and people saying England will never play as well as Spain. But I don't believe that."

Source: PA