St George's Park National Football Centre will will be the catalyst for improvement in English football, says Gerard Houllier

Houllier is convinced the centre, the FA's Clairefontaine equivalent, will produce future stars

Mark Bryans
Tuesday 20 November 2012 13:54 GMT
A view of the facilities at St George's Park
A view of the facilities at St George's Park (GETTY IMAGES)

Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier believes the St George's Park National Football Centre will be the catalyst for improvement in English football.

Houllier, 65, took charge of Paris Saint-Germain in 1985, the same year the French academy at Clairefontaine was originally signed off and he played a key role in its development.

After three years of construction the centre opened and remains one of the most prestigious and well-known football academies in the world.

Clairefontaine boasts a host of Barclays Premier League players amongst its alumni with the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, Alou Diaby, William Gallas and Louis Saha all passing through, while Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka also attended.

Houllier is convinced St George's Park, the FA's Clairefontaine equivalent which opened earlier this year in Burton-upon-Trent, will give English football the added impetus it requires to challenge for honours within a decade.

"To me it is a massive achievement and improvement for English football," he told Press Association Sport.

"We entered Clairefontaine in 1988 and the team became World champions in 1998, it is not only a coincidence.

"I think once you have a tool of that dimension it brings unity to the national teams, even referees can train there, national teams from youngsters to the first-team."

Houllier, talking at the publication of the Castrol LMA European Managers Survey 2012, believes having a focal point for all levels of the game can be of huge benefit to both players and coaches.

He said: "It brings a unity of place for the coaching and also for the coaches' education and a unity of place for the philosophy and the type of football you want to implement.

"You have the fields and everything to use and to show, instead of running from training ground to training ground, hotel to hotel.

"I think that once you have that you are bound to improve if it is used in the proper way."


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