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Inside England’s Euros base: Squad welcomed with sweets and scent of St George’s Park

England arrive at their basecamp ahead of their European Championship campaign which gets under way against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday night
England arrive at their basecamp ahead of their European Championship campaign which gets under way on Sunday - PA/Adam Davy

Gareth Southgate’s England players arrived at their European Championship basecamp greeted by personal touches with handwritten notes, familiar scents and their favourite sweets waiting for them in their five-star hotel rooms.

Harry Kane and his team-mates will be hoping to extend their stay at the Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land to 34 days in their attempt to win Euro 2024 and no stone has been left unturned to make it a home from home.

The 26-man squad may be hundreds of miles from home but during their three major tournaments under Southgate, his staff have done everything to make players comfortable while away from their loved ones. Gone are the days of players being bored and isolated, which was the accusation during Fabio Capello’s ill-fated reign.

At their team hotel in Blankenhain, an hour and a half from Leipzig where they are away from footfall of the supporters who have travelled to Germany, they have reminders in their rooms of their nearest and dearest getting fully behind them to go one better than three years ago, when they reached the final.

On the walls of players’ rooms are collages of photos of their families and some of the special occasions spent together. Some even have pictures of their beloved pets who they will be spending weeks away from. On the sofas waiting from them were cushions with those closest to them in their personal lives printed on the covers.

A welcome pack prepared by Southgate’s staff included a few of their favourite sweets, individually selected for each player, to make it more than just a customary chocolate left on the pillow.

But the inspirational touch left for players were personalised notes from their families, telling them how proud they are of playing at the Euros for England – a heartwarming message to take with them as they step up training on Tuesday ahead of the weekend when they face Serbia first in Group C.

Southgate spoke about changing the face of the hotel rooms during the last Euros when England were based at St George’s Park and players were living in a Covid bubble away from those they usually saw every day. “We are hoping to change that a little bit so when the players walk through the door it is not quite as they have seen it before. I am looking forward to that,” he said at the time.

That tournament saw the training camp in Burton installed with extra features to keep the players entertained. Yet staff have this time brought St George’s Park to Germany, with three specific fragrances filling the air to bring a sense of familiarity. The corridors of the resort will feature the same ‘signature’ scent that is used at England’s headquarters, a “fresh, comforting aroma that is distinguishable and lets you know you’re in a high-end space”, with notes of bergamot, lily and jasmine. There is a different, more energising fragrance for the gym and recreation areas, while a lavender-based aroma will be used in bedrooms to create a relaxing and sleep-friendly atmosphere at night.

Here in Germany, staff know exactly what the squad needs in their downtime too, with the high-end spa resort containing facilities that the squad and staff can use.

Basketball is one of the favourite activities away from the training pitches and there is a court at Spa & Golf Resort Weimarer Land. There is also an outdoor padel court for the racket-sport phenomenon which is a hybrid of tennis and squash. It is clear why hosts Germany had earmarked it as a potential camp for the tournament, but instead they are based south in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach.

Around the rest of England’s 94-bedroom camp, players have been impressed with the areas to socialise and spend time together away from training pitches and the gym. Their main social area is based around the indoor swimming pool at the spa, with massage tables at one end so players can be seen to while they are relaxing.

There are sofas at one of the open-plan social areas and a singer greeted players as they arrived with a performance as they got to know their new surroundings. At the other end there are plunge pools as you would find at five-star spas.

A balcony overlooks the area where players will chill out. It will be where players will spend time with each other between their matches, with hopes it will be where they toast success deep into the tournament.

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