Stuart Pearce thinks the Football Association's new St George's Park facility will prove to be a vital part of England's quest to end their 45-year wait to win a major international competition.
Eight years after plans were announced for a permanent base for the England team, building at the National Football Centre is close to completion and the national team will be based there during the qualification period for the next World Cup.
With 12 pitches and cutting edge sports medicine and sports science facilities, the 330-acre site at Burton-upon-Trent will be England's answer to the Clairefontaine centre credited with bringing through France's best players over the last two decades.
Arsène Wenger and Jose Mourinho have said in the past that they were astounded to hear that England, a team who have not lifted the World Cup since 1966, do not have a national centre, unlike almost all the other major footballing nations in Europe.
Pearce, who tasted semi-final defeat as a player at Italia '90 and Euro '96, thinks St George's Park could make a huge difference in the country's push for success on the international stage.
"I think St George's Park could be the one single thing that could push us on, possibly for the next 100 years. It's that exciting a project," Pearce said. "When I first came in to the organisation, I had problems. The analysis department was based in Liverpool, the conditioning department was based somewhere else, and as a manager you wouldn't accept that at any club so why should we accept it at the elite end of football in this country? To have everyone under the same roof, to be able to invite young players in for coaching weekends, to be able to support our players and managers within this country to develop all under one roof, one venue, will be absolutely outstanding."
Pearce, England's Under-21 manager, has ruled himself out of the running to take over from Fabio Capello as full England manager when the Italian's tenure comes to an end next summer.
The FA would prefer to install a home-grown manager, but other than Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson, there are no real contenders for the position.
St George's Park is also designed to act as a base for the development of English coaches and Pearce hopes it can play a role in ending the need to appoint a foreigner as national head coach.
"It's vitally important that we keep developing English coaches and English managers," the 49-year-old said. "Every time the England manager's job comes up, we should have 10 candidates who have great CVs that can do the job. It's vital that we better the standard of coaching in this country."
Pearce has given his backing to the FA's Licensed Coaches' Club initiative, which was launched at Wembley yesterday. The scheme allows coaches from across the country to get discounted access to courses and classes with the aim of improving the quality of coaching in England.
"This idea is vital," said Pearce. "The better the standard of coaching, the better standard of player we get to work with. "We can all develop together,the players and the coaches."
Meanwhile, England have criticised as a "scare story" reports that the team's training base in Poland for Euro 2012 is dilapidated and not fit for purpose.
England will be using the ground of fourth division Hutnik Nowa Huta as their base in Poland for at least three games – against France, Ukraine and Sweden. Club England managing director Adrian Bevington admits the facilities are not up to standard but insisted they will be ready for when the players arrive before the tournament. A national newspaper reported the ground in Krakow is "barely fit for a pub team" and describes the dressing room and medical facilities as "a shambles". Pictures show rubble-strewn dressing rooms and showers.
But Bevington said on his Twitter account: "We have a pitch specialist company who work with Fifa and Uefa working on our training pitch – it will be fine."
He added: "Pre-tournament base camp scare story. V predictable. Training pitch isn't good but will be in June."
England's group games will all be in Ukraine with matches against France and Ukraine in Donetsk as well as a trip to Kiev to play Sweden with their journeys totalling 5,000 miles.
Should they reach the latter stages of the tournament they would face two more trips to Donetsk for the quarter and semi-finals.
Yet Capello, who chose a city centre location in Krakow after what Bevington described yesterday as a 14-month search which ended with the Italian adamant his side would prepare better in Poland, refused to entertain any thought of a change following last Friday's draw. "Absolutely not," he said.
"I am happy with Krakow. When we played in Ukraine, we arrived the day before. That was a long trip from London. When we played Montenegro we did the same.
"I prefer to play in Krakow because the facilities are really good. The players will be happy with the hotel and the training."
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