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Irdning welcomes England's stars

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James Pearce | 14:20 UK time, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

If Fabio Capello wants his players to get away from the pressure that's bound to build as the World Cup edges closer, then he definitely chose the right location for the squad's training camp.

When you travel to the village of Irdning in Austria, as I did last week, stress is not a word that immediately springs to mind.

Nestled high up in the Alps, it is a spectacular setting. The team's hotel is a converted castle which is more than a thousand years old. When you stand on the hotel's patio you look out over a landscape dominated by snow-capped mountains. A little lower down in the valley is Irdning, a village with a population of just 2,600.

So what's the England squad doing there? The main reason is the altitude. England's opening match at the World Cup against the United States will be played in Rustenburg, which is 1,500 metres above sea level.

A two-week training trip to the Alps is seen by Capello as perfect preparation. It's not the first time that he's been there. Capello used to take his Real Madrid team to Irdning for pre-season training.

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I was only in Austria for 24 hours, but it was hard to escape the excitement that some of the world's best-known players are coming to town. The locals talked excitedly about David Beckham's visit with Real Madrid four years ago. One woman told me how she'd been walking down the High Street when Beckham jogged past her. Apparently that brought the village to a standstill, although that would hardly have been difficult in a part of the world where life doesn't seem to move much faster than a snail's pace anyway.

Beckham certainly left his mark in 2006. A number of people proudly show off their photos with him. One, David Gabriel, was a teenager at the time. He got chatting to Beckham in the local nightclub (more about that later), and told me that once he'd persuaded him to pose for a picture, he cheekily asked the player if he could have a pair of his boots.

"Beckham was really friendly. He told me to come down to the training ground the next day. After training he came over to me and gave me his football boots. They had his initials on them, and the names of his sons."

Many people would have kept the boots as a memento that would last a lifetime. David Gabriel had a different idea. "I decided to put them on eBay" he said. "They were sold for 3,000 euros. Somebody in Switzerland I think. I spent the money on new football clothes and going out."

Anyway, back to the nightclub. I'm sure that Fabio Capello will keep his players on a tight rein in Austria, and I can safely predict that he wouldn't be overly impressed if he glanced at one of the nightclub's flyers.

The England squad arrive in Austria
The England squad arrive in Austria on Tuesday en route to the Alps

Friday night's entertainment is highlighted as 'Millions of Dreads'. The flyer promises "hot go-go girls" and half-price whisky and Bacardi. Don't expect to hear about any England players roaming the streets of Irdning on Friday if their coach has anything to do with it.

Above all, though, I can say with some certainty after my trip to Irdning (I wasn't there on a Friday night by the way!) that the England squad is guaranteed a very warm welcome in this small Austrian village.

It's beautiful, the training pitch looks to be in excellent condition and the hotel is first class. England's journey to South Africa begins here, and the people of Irdning are determined to give the squad the perfect World Cup send-off.

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  • 1. At 3:21pm on 18 May 2010, WhatDoesWoyWant? wrote:

    First post, good luck boys - you can do it!!!

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  • 2. At 3:49pm on 18 May 2010, johnboy1977 wrote:

    if becks is reading this i bet he aint in a hurry to give away his boots again, 3k might sound a lot but if he kept them 20 years soon be worth 100k+

    the austrians were looking forward to having england there in the 2008 finals sadly it never happened, turned out to be a blessing in disguise for us in the long run though, making this austrian trip is more important!

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  • 3. At 4:26pm on 18 May 2010, Zackerious wrote:

    When you look at some of the problems Argentina and Brazil have had playing at altitude in South American WC qualifying you can see how important it is to train your body as a player at reduced oxygen levels. It will be interesting to see if USA are doing most of this preparation in the lab or will be training at altitude themselves. Their current New Jersey training camp doesn't seem the best place to start in my mind.

    http://engfootyabroad.com/ - English Footballers Abroad

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  • 4. At 4:38pm on 18 May 2010, skillzy wrote:

    It will be interesting to see how Capello reacts to any misdemeanors from any top players. Will he evict them if they play up on this trip? If they end up getting papped being somewhere they shouldnt? We all know there is going to be something for the press to get their teeth into somewhere along the line and its going to be interesting to see, now the finals are in sight, exactly what the iron sergeant is made of.

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  • 5. At 4:39pm on 18 May 2010, HarrysDisciple - 606 SOS wrote:

    "half-price whisky and Bacardi" - yeah I'm sure cost is the big issue to the England players!

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  • 6. At 4:43pm on 18 May 2010, Not Arrogant - Just Better wrote:

    A well wishing story in the midst of doom and gloom is always a good thing. also had to stifle a cheeky smile about the man who asked for a pair of beckhams boots then sold em, theres gratitude for ya!

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  • 7. At 5:01pm on 18 May 2010, adampsb wrote:

    Many people would have kept the boots as a memento that would last a lifetime. David Gabriel had a different idea. "I decided to put them on eBay" he said. "They were sold for 3,000 euros. Somebody in Switzerland I think. I spent the money on new football clothes and going out."

    ------------------

    What an ass and it will discourage stars from doing the same for genuine fans

    http://adampsb.blogspot.com/2010/05/world-cup-theme-songs.html

    Very interesting as well

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  • 8. At 5:18pm on 18 May 2010, Damog7 wrote:

    Im an Irishman living in Scotland and will support England at the world cup, im a Man U fan and reckon it would be hypocrytical not to support them given my support for an English club with English players (albeit fewer than in years gone by). However, it seems to me that the England tilt at the World Cup is unravelling before our eyes, Capello's websit / JT Bridge issue / rumours around Gerrard / Lord Numpty / new formation etc etc...I hope it doesnt happpen, but i can see it all imploding no matter how good the players adn coaches are!! Good luck though!

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  • 9. At 5:24pm on 18 May 2010, Danshi wrote:

    Any news on Rooneys fitness?

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  • 10. At 5:55pm on 18 May 2010, klazzy wrote:

    Who's most relishing the prospect of putting their laces through the new World Cup football at altitude?

    Given the usual number of complaints from goalkeepers about swerve on the ball, I presume the additional pressure differential will give the likes of Lampard even more encouragement to shoot on sight.

    We see in Rugby matches in Blomfontein the extra distance achievable through kicking really has an impact on play. I wonder if the effects on the flight of the football will be a significant factor here too, in terms of style of play? I doubt it will affect a team's tactics, but I'm sure it'll get a mention in the training sessions at Irdning.

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  • 11. At 6:20pm on 18 May 2010, foreverblue94 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 12. At 6:21pm on 18 May 2010, foreverblue94 wrote:

    aw dayum there were 9 posts inbetween reading and right still 11 pretty high

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  • 13. At 6:47pm on 18 May 2010, dwmw111 wrote:

    Interesting article but since the subject was the elevation England will train at, shouldn't the elevation have been included ?

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  • 14. At 7:51pm on 18 May 2010, Phil wrote:

    I hate the guy selling the boots, i really do. I used to love collecting autographs and memorabilia, but now its horrible as people just want it to sell. I bet he lied to get them too. This is why footballers are now so untrusting. I have all kinds of things from players shirts, to goalkeepers gloves, and i wouldnt sell any of them for love nor money, as they were presented to me in good faith by the players.

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  • 15. At 7:51pm on 18 May 2010, riggy wrote:

    In terms of support, David'll be there, and strict guidelines will be put into place....thank god.

    I wish the boys well and be sure to focus on each match.

    I'll be here in England ready from the word go!

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  • 16. At 7:57pm on 18 May 2010, jchubeta_aBridgeTooFar wrote:

    As a neutral, that has lived in England, I want England to do, especially because of Fabio Capello who I think is the best manager in the world. He has been successful wherever he has managed, winning trophies at Milan, Juventus, Roma and in two spells at Real Madrid. He is a disciplinarian but very tactically astute. He and Lippi were my first choices for Chelsea manager before the appointment of Ancelotti. I also want England to do well, because of the Chelsea players in the team.

    However, as any neutral will confess to you, if England wins, the press will never let the rest of the world live it down. You can bet that every newspaper will try to re-write history by claiming that no football was played in the world between 1966 and 2010. We are already sick of hearing about 1966 being talked about, in the same breath and importance as the 1969 landing on the moon by astronauts, and the 1990 semi-final finish seems as good as a World cup win, going by the repetition in the press.

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  • 17. At 8:54pm on 18 May 2010, HotHeadWazza wrote:

    Oh how I could do with a bit of JDR today..

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  • 18. At 8:55pm on 18 May 2010, writtenbyfansforfans wrote:

    It sounds like a perfect location and the picture looks very nice! Hopefully without any distractions in the preparation we can have a tournament without any external influences to use as an excuse.

    http://the-fa-premier-league.blogspot.com

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  • 19. At 9:21pm on 18 May 2010, LostmekecksintheGmex wrote:

    @jchubeta

    shush now. You live in a country obsessed by football that hasn't won the WC for 44 years, and is desperate to do so. Of course they're going to go on about the only time they won it when WC time comes round.

    Don't know how that's not 'letting the rest of the world live it down'. The rest of the world don't read the English press, do they? The English press are awful in many ways (see Mail on Sunday currently), but referencing the '66 side when talking about the WC is natural, until we actually win it again (if ever). Or until that team all dies out.

    If you read German websites currently all you hear is "82 million v Kevin-Prince Boateng" - like there's no other German player or other team in the WC. It's natural.

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  • 20. At 10:15pm on 18 May 2010, cliveeta wrote:

    If you get aerobically fit at high altitude then play at sea level its like being superman!

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  • 21. At 11:06pm on 18 May 2010, hakuna_matata wrote:

    This seems to be a very ideal preparation and things are looking so far so good. I certainly optimistic about England's chances this year (well i am every year). Good luck to the boys. Make us proud.

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  • 22. At 03:16am on 19 May 2010, lumumba wrote:

    Altitude is one thing but when you combine it with sun/heat...be careful England !

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  • 23. At 03:24am on 19 May 2010, lumumba wrote:

    Training at altitude is great but when you combine it with sun/heat....good luck England

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  • 24. At 04:59am on 19 May 2010, kenng wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 25. At 06:17am on 19 May 2010, Redthemadsheep2001 - LUHG wrote:

    lumumba wrote:

    Training at altitude is great but when you combine it with sun/heat....good luck England
    ==============================================================

    they are playing in south africa's winter, temperature will be milder, maximum teperatures range between 17 and 25

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  • 26. At 07:43am on 19 May 2010, shadur10 wrote:

    Can't believe that story about the boots! It's things like that which make footballers not want to give something away cause it's just going to get sold by someone who doesn't have a brain. Fans should cherish things like that, especially a pair of Beckhams boots! Who cares about the money, it should be the memento that counts.

    Anyway I think Capello is preparing England better than anyone else has done in a long time, even ever. England could even be in better shape than the other countries if you look at the preparation each of the coaches are going through. Capello seems to have a much more professional outlook than I have seen from a lot of the other coaches.

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  • 27. At 08:57am on 19 May 2010, Irelands Secret Weapon wrote:

    19. At 9:21pm on 18 May 2010, LostmekecksintheGmex wrote:
    @jchubeta

    shush now. You live in a country obsessed by football that hasn't won the WC for 44 years, and is desperate to do so. Of course they're going to go on about the only time they won it when WC time comes round.

    Don't know how that's not 'letting the rest of the world live it down'. The rest of the world don't read the English press, do they? The English press are awful in many ways (see Mail on Sunday currently), but referencing the '66 side when talking about the WC is natural, until we actually win it again (if ever). Or until that team all dies out.

    If you read German websites currently all you hear is "82 million v Kevin-Prince Boateng" - like there's no other German player or other team in the WC. It's natural.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The 'British' press incorporates Scotland, Wales and the island of Ireland. We all know the WC was won by England in '66, but why do we need constant reminding, especially from press that continually build the England team up and then publish stories to aid their demise ie. Lord Triesman, was this really breaking news or did everyone need to know the man's thoughts which have jeopardised the 2018 bid.

    Was it Triesman or the 'Patriotic(?)' media that has left the 2018 bid in tatters... answers on a postcard please!

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  • 28. At 09:14am on 19 May 2010, Jay wrote:

    Capello does seem if he is ticking all of the boxes in terms of preparation. Now he just needs to make the most important decision and take Bent, top scoring englishman over the last three seasons together.

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  • 29. At 09:48am on 19 May 2010, mikestar01 wrote:

    Hopefully the training camp goes well. It will be interesting to see what Capello would do if Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney are seen stumbling out of a night club!

    It will be interesting to see who gets cut. I hope Bent goes as one of 5 strikers. And if Barry doesn't make it, who will replace him? Probably Carrick, but it will be a huge blow!

    http://www.football-journo.com

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  • 30. At 10:28am on 19 May 2010, AfricanRedds wrote:

    25. At 06:17am on 19 May 2010, Redthemadsheep2001 - LUHG wrote:
    lumumba wrote:

    Training at altitude is great but when you combine it with sun/heat....good luck England
    ==============================================================

    they are playing in south africa's winter, temperature will be milder, maximum teperatures range between 17 and 25


    depends where in SA you are. Durban is subtropical. the highveld is most like england, icy and cold, temperatures ranging from -6 to 17. cape town and port elizabeth, from gorgeous and sunny to proper tree-felling storms. temperatures from 3-30 degrees, however, if the wind blows, it can feel like -3 to -30 degrees.

    personally, in the football perspective, it will be great because if you ever played football in the summer, it gets insanely hot very quickly. however, from the eye-candy perspective, winter clothes all round :(

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  • 31. At 10:31am on 19 May 2010, alistu2002 wrote:

    Oh dear, how tiresome to read post 27 complaining about the English going on about the WC in 66 and how we go on and on about it..this post reads like sour grapes to me...can't the English get excited about the world cup and not be slated for building our team and country up, isn't that the natural thing to do?? Would be so nice if the rest of the Nation got behind us as the only British team in the competition (I know there are a lot that are!)...in any case, with or without them...Come on England..let us be no longer in the shadow of 1966!

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  • 32. At 5:22pm on 21 May 2010, f45y5y43 wrote:

    "Interesting article but since the subject was the elevation England will train at, shouldn't the elevation have been included?"

    - excellent point! I decided to look it up myself on Google Earth, and oh Irding is at 670m....wow, really high altitude.

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  • 33. At 03:14am on 24 May 2010, AwhiteInColorado wrote:

    Just the main village is at 673m. The surrounding area is up to 1460m.

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  • 34. At 04:54am on 24 May 2010, nicky9999 wrote:

    For all those bitter people out there who keep going on about the British press and what they print regarding the English Football team.

    I know that I'm stating the obvious here but if you don't want to read about the English Football team past or present why don't you stop buying British newspapers.
    We were all under the impression that newspapers such as The Sun, The Mirror, etc were in the business of selling newspapers so if most of their collective audience happens to be English and a good percentage of those people wanted to read about the English football team, why on earth, in a run up to a World Cup would they print a story about the last time Heart of Midlothian F.C won the Scottish Cup? Presumably to put themselves out of business.
    If I wanted to read newspaper articles that had few references to things English then I wouldn't buy a British newspaper. If you want to read a
    newspaper that reports on predominantly things Northern Irish, Scottish or Welsh may I suggest you purchase one of the following:-

    - Belfast Telegraph
    - The Daily Record
    - any number of Welsh newspapers that I'm sure are out there.

    What you really want to say is:-
    'We hate the fact that England have won the World Cup'
    but that would look like sour grapes wouldn't it so the next best thing is to attack England's pathetic and feeble attempt to hang on to the fact
    that they have actually won it.

    For anyone who wants to come on here and bleat on about how every English fan thinks they are going to win it:-
    Every single England fan that I have spoken to are just happy to be taking part and the general concensus is that if we can reach the semi finals for the first time in 20 years we would be delighted.

    Go put that in your anti-english pipe and smoke it.

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