MANCHESTER: The creation of St Georges Park national football centre in England is long overdue, according to Gerard Houllier writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The former France, Liverpool and Aston manager likened the development – which was on the FA backburner for years – to the Clairefontaine national coaching centre in the Ile de France.

He said: “This is great, fantastic. It will bring unity, identity, philosophy – everything. It’s funny, England is the home of football yet the home of football has had no house. So it’s about time that it had one.”

Clairefontaine was opened in 1988 and has been the nerve centre for the talent development system which has produced almost all of the finest French players over the past 20 years as well as a stream of outstanding coaches.

Houllier pointed out that the development had played a key role in France winning the World Cup a decade later and then the European Championship a further two years on.

He had been speaking on a conference panel focused on youth development along with included England under-21 coach Stuart Pearce, St George’s Park chairman David Sheepshanks and French trophy winner Patrick Vieira.

They identified a central weakness of England’s player development system as being the lack of effective opportunities for the age group between 18 and 21.

Houllier highlighted the value of nursery and reserve league opportunities in Spain and France as significant in their national team success.

= = = = =