England seek to settle nerves and build confidence at five-star team hotel ahead of Euro 24 opener

The England squad was treated to a surprise visit by the Prince of Wales before they departed for the tournament

England’s Euros hopefuls won’t lack for comfort when they check in to their tournament base later today; far from it.

They also won’t need to worry about being distracted from the job in hand, because their temporary home, the five-star Weimar Golf Hotel and Spa resort, lies at the centre of a 350-acre estate in what was east Germany.

Far from the madding crowd.

There are three golf courses and a Premier League standard training pitch a stone’s throw away, and inside the main hotel there’s everything you’d expect. And one thing in particular that you probably wouldn’t.

To keep the players entertained and competitive the ‘must-haves’ are table tennis, snooker, darts and a cinema room. There’s a gym and a swimming pool too, where players can jump on inflatable unicorns to their hearts' content without anyone spying on them.

No-one will ever know what they’re up to, unless they share anything on their social channels.

The hotel surprise is the robot waiter that roams through the restaurants at mealtimes collecting dirty plates and cutlery.

Until very recently it was fitted out in Germany colours; no one yet knows whether it might now be forced into a Three Lions’ kit.

In fact, originally the hosts Germany were keen to base themselves in Weimar, but their main sponsors urged them to set up shop much closer to Adidas HQ, so the Germans were forced to give up their preferred choice. That’s when the quick-thinking FA pounced, with an £800,000 deal to secure the resort for the entire tournament.

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It is just what Gareth Southgate envisaged; essentially a luxurious setting, first class sporting facilities and enough else going on to keep his squad entertained during down times, but no needless diversions.

Almost certainly he will have organised something special for each player’s room, whether that be messages from home or photographs transporting them back to when they first started out as young footballers.

These gestures not only make them feel loved but remind the players of just how many people have helped them on their journey, and how many are, in spirit, there in Germany with them.

All these comforts might come in handy this week as England contemplate the first game against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen.

Southgate’s boys are favourites to lift the Euros trophy in a month’s time, but if you watched them lose to Iceland in their last warm-up game at Wembley you could be forgiven for thinking the bookies had lost their marbles.

England’s performance was lacklustre and ineffective. Yes, it was a friendly and yes, it wasn’t a full first choice team in action but still it wasn’t the send-off statement that anyone in the camp would have wanted.

It makes Gareth Southgate’s job this week more complicated and even more nuanced.

There may be some nerves to settle and some confidence to build ahead of Gelsenkirchen, never mind deciding who will play when it comes to that first game next week and how in the coming days, he’s going to get them firing.

Southgate is doing it all without some big and experienced characters in his squad. It’s his choice, but he can’t turn to the calming influence of Jordan Henderson; there’s no Harry Maguire and livewire Jack Grealish isn’t there either.

Harry Kane, Kyle Walker, Declan Rice and a few others will now have to fill that vacuum on their own; there’s no question the environment created in camp this week will impact the performance when it all gets serious against Serbia.

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