World Cup 2014: England hope to avoid the 'Curse of Cameron' after PM gives squad send off

The Prime Minister has made a habit of getting behind British sport stars only for them to fail

England manager Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad were given a rousing send-off by prime minister David Cameron ahead of their forthcoming World Cup campaign.

On his maiden visit to the national football centre, St George's Park in Burton that was built at a cost of £105million, the prime minister spoke with Hodgson pitchside after a training session with the players.

Mr Cameron also met England captain Steven Gerrard and vice-captain Frank Lampard before being given a guided tour of the facilities by St George's Park chairman David Sheepshanks.

However, it will be hoped Mr Cameron's visit does not bring on the so-called 'Curse of Cameron' which has appeared to blight some of the country's top sports stars in the past.

Cameron was present for Andy Murray's Wimbledon final loss in 2012 and at the London Olympics when Mark Cavendish failed to live up his billing in the road race, Tom Daley and Pete Waterfield failed to medal in the synchro diving, and when Gemma Gibbons lost her judo final.

The PM also sent Laura Robson a message of support before she lost at SW19 last year but Hodgson's men will be hoping his presence at Murray's victorious final against Novak Djokovic will signal a change of fortune.

Aside from the official opening in October 2012 by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, it was the first time a dignitary of such standing had visited the centre.

It just happened to coincide with the end of a four-day programme at St George's for Hodgson and his players as part of their build-up towards the World Cup that kicks off in Brazil in two weeks' time.

 

Hodgson's squad initially face Peru at Wembley on Friday in a warm-up match before flying out to Miami on Sunday for games with Ecuador and Honduras.

But that was not before the prime minsister had delivered words of encouragement that earned him a standing ovation.

Speaking to Press Association Sport, former FA and Football League chairman Sheepshanks said: "This has been a proud day for the whole team.

"St George's Park is now 18 months old. We're still in our infancy, and it's an enormous fillip to have the prime minister come and take such an interest.

"He asked great questions wherever he went, and he was thoroughly engaging with everybody.

"Some people have said he could not have come on a better day, and it's always a bit of extra magic when the England World Cup squad are here.

"I'm sure he wanted to wish them well in Brazil, which indeed he did - quite brilliantly.

"He was very straightforward - and I'm not going to recite what he said - but he was very passionate and genuine in his support and enthusiasm. What he said couldn't have been warmer.

"What I can tell you is he received a spontaneous round of applause from everybody in the room - all the players, coaches and staff - and I thought that was a really nice feeling."

Mr Cameron also spoke with three members of Britain's armed forces who are due to attend the game with Peru under the Tickets for Troops scheme that is celebrating 500,000 donations.

There was also time for a question and answer session with a number of children using the facility as part of the FA's Skills school.

"The focus for many on St George's Park is on the elite and the top of the pyramid, but we are infatuated with the entire pyramid," added Sheepshanks.

"The fact is we do bring young kids here and are open to everybody.

"The dream always starts at the bottom, and if you ask Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard or any of the younger guys in the England squad, they all had a dream when they were very young.

"There cannot be many more inspirational things for kids on a skills programme to sit and have that magical experience in meeting the prime minister, Roy Hodgson and Sir Trevor Brooking together.

"Where will those dreams take them? Hopefully, one or two of them, or more, right to the very top."

Sheepshanks remarked last year that St George's Park will play its part in helping England win a World Cup in the next 20 years.

However, he feels it is "absolutely too soon" for that to happen this year, adding: "I've wished the England guys well and expressed hope the St George's Park factor would help them.

"But it is extremely early days. We were very clear at the outset to say this is a long-term project.

"The England team have only been coming here for just over a year, but you never know, sometimes a place like St George's Park can be the catalyst, can give everybody a bounce, the feel-good factor.

"Right now there is a buzz about this place. The prime minister has been here, the England team are here, and you can feel the crescendo coming around the World Cup.

"Equally the expectations aren't too high, so whatever England achieve in Brazil, it's going to be viewed positively."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works