William meets Southgate ahead of World Cup campaign during football centre visit

The Prince of Wales was touring St George’s Park on the 10th anniversary of the centre’s opening as the home of England’s teams.

The Prince of Wales during a visit to St George's Park in Burton upon Trent
The Prince of Wales during a visit to St George's Park in Burton upon Trent

The Prince of Wales has met England manager Gareth Southgate ahead of final preparations for next month’s World Cup.

The Three Lions will be kicking off their campaign on November 21, with William speaking to the head coach during his visit to St George’s Park, near Burton-upon-Trent, on Wednesday.

The prince, who is president of the Football Association, spent 15 minutes in private with Southgate in a boot room at the national football centre in Staffordshire.

It is understood the pair discussed the England team’s preparation for the upcoming campaign, with the head coach thanking William for visiting, and highlighting the centre’s decade of work.

Royal visit to St. George’s Park
The Prince of Wales during a visit to St George’s Park (Rui Viera/PA)

Southgate also expressed his condolences to the prince on the loss of his grandmother, the Queen, and spoke of his admiration for the way the royal family had conducted themselves.

William had been on a tour of the sprawling training facility to mark its 10th anniversary as the home of England’s teams.

As well as the base for the senior men’s, women’s, para and development squads, the centre boasts training, grassroots, sports science and coach education facilities aimed at strengthening the game at every level.

At a wet and blustery St George’s Park, the prince first met with members of England’s senior men’s deaf team as they underwent a training session.

Speaking with players, he raised a laugh when referencing head coach Andy Smith’s roots north of the English border, asking the sign language interpreter “do you add a Scottish accent?”

The Prince of Wales talking to children at St George’s Park in Burton upon Trent to mark its 10th anniversary as the home of English football
The Prince of Wales talking to children at St George’s Park in Burton upon Trent to mark its 10th anniversary as the home of English football (David Davies/PA)

The players have to remove their cochlear implants before every match, with William asking if that was “isolating”, but was told squad members get used to it.

He then watched the Everton in the Community squad – who will be representing England at the Street Child World Cup in Doha, Qatar – put through their paces, telling them: “I wish I was going with you.”

The prince also watched Midlands teams drawn from schools, representing Birmingham City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Walsall, Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Port Vale, Shrewsbury Town – and his beloved Aston Villa – playing in a tournament.

He chatted with Birmingham schoolgirl Nesia Joao, 10, from Edgbaston, who was there representing Villa with fellow All Saints Multi-Academy Trust pupils.

She told reporters: “He asked if we were winning the tournament, and how many goals we had.

“Then he told us Villa was his favourite team and didn’t want us to let him down.

Nesia Joao
Nesia Joao, who was representing Aston Villa, at a youth tournament, and spoke to the Prince of Wales (Richard Vernalls/PA)

“We promised not to.”

She added: “At first I thought he would all be like strict, because he’s in the royal family and has to follow these guidelines.

“But afterwards he was talkative, fun and a nice guy.

“My Dad will be really proud.”

Later on, William watched England para footballers take on West Bromwich Albion counterparts in a fast-paced game of powerchair, played with a larger ball.

The Prince of Wales during a visit to St George’s Park in Burton upon Trent to mark its 10th anniversary as the home of English football
The Prince of Wales during a visit to St George’s Park in Burton upon Trent to mark its 10th anniversary as the home of English football (Rui Viera/PA)

After the game, the prince told the players: “I am amazed and impressed, I haven’t seen it before, but it’s incredible.”

When he said: “I’ll have to come and watch the tournament,” one of the powerchair squad raised a laugh from William when he replied: “No pressure then!”

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