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Manchester United

Inside England’s unusual training camp with Ed Sheeran and Mr Whippy ice cream vans

Kieran Trippier was describing Ed Sheeran’s impromptu gig at St George’s Park when two Mr Whippy ice cream vans drove past in the background.

To say this has not been a normal training camp is a bit of an understatement. The players were allowed an ice cream as a treat after training and pop star Sheeran has also proved to be something of a lucky charm for the England squad.

Sheeran arrived at St George’s Park after England beat Czech Republic, acoustic guitar in hand and did a mini set for the players who sat round having a BBQ and chatted to the Shape of You singer who finished with his version of It’s Coming Home.

England defender Trippier said: “I’d like to think we’ve done well from the first game but I know what you’re saying. Ed Sheeran comes in, all the boys are buzzing, we’re all singing with him and having a good time and it brings you all together.

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Ed Sheeran joined the England team for a private party after their victory over Czech Republic
Ed Sheeran joined the England team for a private party after their victory over Czech Republic

“Then we play Germany and we’re fantastic, we play Ukraine and the lads did unbelievable again and we have another big task against Denmark in front of us.

“We had a barbecue. H had sorted it out for us. He came in, we were sat around, like we are doing now. It was surreal, really, having a barbecue and Ed Sheeran is sat next to you playing his guitar!

“I’m thinking to myself: ‘I’d have paid to watch this!’ and there he is, sat here now! He did quite a few songs, to be fair. 10 or 15, I think. The best thing about it was he was going from one table to another table, he was speaking to everyone.

Steve Holland passes instructions on to the players
England’s time at St George’s Park has been unusual to say the least

“We were asking him questions, was talking to us. I think it was good for him, also. You know, it brings you together as players. Ed Sheeran is singing, you are all singing along with him.”

Who was the best singer? “John Stones,” said Trippier. Then, quick as a flash, someone said Rolling Stones. The same quick witted sage said the ice cream vans had arrived to put the cones out.

But Gareth Southgate went to great lengths in 2018 to make the training camp light hearted and they have done it again to really change the mood – and it is paying off.

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However, the hard work has also happened on the training pitch because England’s defence have yet to concede a goal, they are so well drilled that Southgate has interchanged players and yet they look just as secure with different options.

It could be Trippier who comes in at right back against Denmark to tighten up the right hand side because, after an impressive season in Spain for Atletico Madrid, he looks a different animal now. A tenacious defender with quality on the ball.

Working under Diego Simeone has improved him but Southgate has also got England’s defence well drilled.

“Simeone makes sure you defend first and foremost. If not you will know about it in the dressing room. I am just one of those players, an honest player trying to do my best for my team-mates,” said Trippier.

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“I feel like I’m focusing more on defending and then getting forward. I have attacked a lot this season in the formation we have played in. Same coming here you need to set up differently depending on the opposition.

England’s players have been enjoying themselves on and off the pitch

“We work on that a lot in training with Gareth but once I cross that white line I just try to give my best no matter what position I play.”

Trippier’s impressive season has also made Premier League clubs – including Manchester United – sit up and take notice.

But he said: “For me, I’ve just enjoyed the season and we’ve won the title. I’m honestly not thinking about anything. I’m away with England and we’re playing Denmark and I’m not focusing on my club or what is going on.

“I’m just focused on England and doing as best I can if I play, if I don’t play I still give 100% for my team. For my country I want to do as best as I can. I’m not thinking about anything else.”

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