Life is en suite in castle home to England's World Cup hopes

Every detail has been taken care of at Eriksson's five-star base in Baden-Baden, even down to the size of Peter Crouch's bed. Andy Hunter reports
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The Independent Online

Peter Crouch may have acquired cult status with a questionable hat-trick and embarrassing penalty miss against Jamaica but England's travelling support will have to abandon any intention they had to adopt the Kop's anthem for the 6ft 7in Liverpool centre-forward. He's big, he's red but, thanks to the resourcefulness of the Football Association, his feet will not stick out of the bed in Germany.

The 10 toes that have assumed such importance since Wayne Rooney broke one of his on 29 April were last night covered from the Black Forest chill that greeted the England squad upon their arrival in Baden-Baden courtesy of a super-sized bed that the FA had ordered specially for the man who, despite the standard of the opposition on Saturday, demonstrated to Sven Goran Eriksson the folly of reverting to a five-man midfield against Paraguay. Hopefully.

Crouch, we must presume, enjoyed a comfortable first night's stay at the five-star Schlosshotel Buhlerhohe that will be home to the England camp for the next few weeks and not only on account of an influential international performance on the cusp of the World Cup. The consideration given to his sleeping arrangements is but one illustration of the impressive attention to detail that an FA delegation, which included Eriksson, gave to the team's World Cup preparations on a visit to the region several months ago, and which will, hopefully, reap their benefits as England relax in mind and body at the castle spa perched on the mountainside above Germany's wealthiest town.

Each player in the 23-man squad has been allocated his own private suite at the Buhlerhohe, a Baroque-style mansion that has an intriguing history but, of more concern to its exclusive inhabitants for the next month, a plasma television screen, DVD player, satellite box and computer in every room. Gone are the days of room-mates arguing over the Teasmade it would seem.

Eriksson will live in the presidential suite complete with oval office. An indoor swimming pool, spa, massage room, treatment room, a games room with table tennis and darts are also at the players' disposal, while tennis courts nestle in the private 18-acre estate and two golf courses are located nearby. Alas, Wayne and Michael, there is no casino.

Armed police are based in an outhouse on the approach to a hotel that has hosted Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Adolf Hitler - though not together - and presumably with orders to shoot any journalist or football agent in sight. Eriksson has told his players he does not want visits from their representatives throughout the World Cup campaign, although they can discuss transfer offers over the phone, with the Swede mindful of the destabilising effect Chelsea's interest in Steven Gerrard had on the Liverpool captain during Euro 2004.

England have gone to such lengths to cater for the players' every whim that they were only asked to bring their passports with them to Luton Airport yesterday afternoon. Even their toothbrushes were waiting on arrival, while the Armani suits, tracksuits, T-shirts and training kit that will clothe the camp for the duration of the tournament have all been provided by the FA, who have also brought in their own chef, Roger Narbett, previously of the Savoy and the Dorchester hotels.

In the picturesque town of Baden-Baden below the Buhlerhohe wander the wives and girlfriends of the England squad, all housed in the equally resplendent Benners Park Spa Hotel. Pavement cafes line the cobbled streets of a town reputed to house one millionaire in every 50 residents and takes only 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other, or five minutes in the case of Crouch, and contains enough spas and labelled boutiques to keep the support squad content.

There may even be an excuse for Rooney to pay a visit, provided he returns from Manchester on Wednesday. Gassan Schmidt of the Caracalla Spa said yesterday: "Water is a cure-all with regard to health and Baden-Baden is famous for the healing powers of its spas. Wayne Rooney should visit because we can help him get better. Sportsmen from all over Germany come here because they know it can heal their injuries."

England shall want for nothing.

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