Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

The football factory

ST_GEORGE_8878.jpg

ShortList’s Sam Rowe channels his inner England international at England’s new £100m training camp, courtesy of Perform, official healthcare provider for St. George’s Park.

Picking up the tab in football – it’s not for the faint-hearted. Or light-walleted. Half a billion pounds of Middle Eastern oil were splurged for Manchester City’s Premier League crown, and it took more than £600m of Roman’s roubles to etch Chelsea’s name on the Champions League trophy. So, with England now moved in to St George’s Park, their plush, £100m state-of-the-art pad in Burton, can a nation of eternally heartbroken England fans afford to get excited?

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” says Dr Charlotte Cowie, on-site clinical director. “Being a realist, work needs to be done.” While it’ll be a while before Roy’s boys can out-tiki-taka Spain for world domination, St George’s Park marks the first time all 24 England teams will be under one roof. The new facility will also develop both the English Messis and Mourinhos of tomorrow.

I decide it won’t hurt to audition myself as a would-be England international. Roy Hodgson could do worse than calling up a flabby, short-sighted journalist with bags of enthusiasm but zero talent, right?

BODY COMPOSITION ANALYSER

Before indulging in any rigorous workout, ex-Fulham and Tottenham medic Dr Cowie creates a skeletal MOT. It proves fascinating, if embarrassing, reading. The machine rates my physique between ‘solidly built’ and ‘obese’, notes my weight and fat mass above ‘desirable’ and my body fat percentage at 23.9 per cent. I’m told my metabolic age is 38 – a decade and a half my senior. I’m um, fairly sure it’s broken. Time for a workout, then…

TECHNOGYM KINESIS/ARKE

Be careful what you wish for. Within minutes I’m crippled by a stitch, too exhausted to wipe the sweat from my eyes as trainer Grant Powles barks at me to keep rowing. Sat awkwardly on a stability disc clutching a weighted oar, I’m given no respite as I clip myself into a futuristic weight machine and tossed a football to strike. With each kick I’m flung back to my starting point before being hurled a gym ball filled with water and told to vault some steps. My flea-like tendencies see me leap a short ruler’s length at a time, as the sweat in my eyes turn to tears.

BATAK BOARD

Muscles throbbing, my physical pain is briefly traded for a mental workout, as I’m put in front of the fitness equivalent of Whac-A-Mole. Popularised by The Jonathan Ross Show, the Batak board improves reaction speeds and hand-eye co-ordination via the age-old method of bashing lit-up buttons.Perfect for honing the skills of F1 drivers and goalkeepers alike (Jenson Button has hit 136 in a minute), I come into my own as I don’t feel like I’m going to pass out or vomit, nailing a respectable 34 in 30 seconds.

ANTI-GRAVITY TREADMILL

Squeezing into the world’s snuggest cycling shorts, I’m zipped into an airtight enclosure as a rubber ring inflates around me. Conceived by Nasa to train astronauts, the AlterG treadmill is used by endurance athletes such as Mo Farah, and will be key in nursing England players during rehabilitation. With 60 per cent of my own weight offset, I float into a gruelling run with ease, each stride feeling more spaceman than sprinter. The feeling of weightlessness not only aids recovery but also helps you push harder for longer. It could be because I now weigh about the same as a bag of sugar, but I feel like I could run forever.

ALTITUDE CHAMBER

Used to acclimatise athletes to the rigour of playing above sea level, the altitude chamber also aids weight loss and enhances performance through stripping oxygen levels to 15 per cent as you run, cycle or lift weights 2,500m above (simulated) sea level. “Your body will have to increase its heartbeat to get the same amount of oxygen around the body,” says physio Steve Kemp.

HYDROTHERAPY

With ice-lolly legs and nipples that could chop tomatoes, I freeze my way through contrast therapy, enduring frosty waters before resting in a steaming hot tub. The conflicting temperatures flush out lactic acid and rid ordinarily inevitable aches. I’m far from thankful. Tomorrow I will be. Next, I find myself sprinting in slow-motion on the HydroWorx underwater treadmill. Using hydrostatic pressure and water resistance, recovery from injury is aided, swelling reduced and, most importantly, England players are free to show off in swimming shorts.

I end my day declining a five-a-side match (I’m far too drained to actually play football) and slope off for a sports massage. I have a newfound respect for what Rooney, Hart, Cole and co do week in, week out – I’ve scarcely made it through an afternoon. That said, if you pay me £150,000 a week and install an underwater treadmill for my mansion, I’d happily give it another go.

Perform is the official healthcare provider for St. George’s Park, the FA's new training base for the 24 England teams.

Related

HERO1.jpg

Football Book Clubs

PA-14889641.jpg

Wayne Rooney's Top 5 Players

rooney1.jpg

Wayne Rooney

Comments

More

Boxing doesn’t need Mayweather, but MMA needs McGregor

Who doesn't love a shit-talking, hard-punching antihero?

by Sam Diss
01 Dec 2016

Whatever happened to the Premier League's youngest goalscorers?

Following the EFL Cup heroics of Liverpool youngster Ben Woodburn, we look at pubescent hotshots of yore

30 Nov 2016

Here's how the footballing world paid tribute to Chapecoense

by Joe Ellison
30 Nov 2016

The SPOTY Award nominees are boring. Try these instead

30 Nov 2016

Watch footballer pass ball to steward after mistaking him for player

Not entirely his fault...

by Dave Fawbert
22 Nov 2016

5 Vines that prove Jamie Redknapp is a master of football analysis

by Joe Ellison
31 Oct 2016

Ballon d’Or: Who’s a fraud and who's not

We weigh up the merits of the 30 footballers recently deemed the planet's best

26 Oct 2016

Luis Suarez talks English football and the toughest PL defenders

He's a lover, not a biter

19 Oct 2016

Gary Lineker talks crisps, Rooney and "Sh*t on pitch"

Crisp don Gary Lineker reminisces about the time Diego Maradona nearly fell off a balcony

by Alex Christian
19 Oct 2016

Park Ji-sung now plays for De Montfort University's student side

And can't even prevent them from getting utterly drubbed

by Tristan Cross
14 Oct 2016