Former Arsenal and France midfielder Patrick Vieira lauded the official opening of St. Georges Park, the English Football Association’s national soccer center that opened on Tuesday, but was quick to point out that England has a long way to go before it produces talent on a par with countries like Spain and France.
"For a big country like England, with the number of kids who love the game, you don't produce enough talent," the 1998 World Cup winner said in an interview with the Guardian. "I strongly believe one of the reasons is the coaches. They need to review how to coach the kids from eight years old to 21."
Improving the quality of coaching in England is precisely what the FA hopes to achieve with St. George Park. The $170 million venue will serve as the base for all coaching and development work undertaken by the FA, in addition to being the training ground for England’s national soccer teams at all levels.
Vieira, who is currently a development executive for Manchester City, pointed out that the country’s passion for the game is its greatest strength. "Perhaps more needs to be done on the technical side to try to improve [the gap between England and countries like Spain and France] because the heart of the English players is, I would say, double or triple that of Spanish or French players," he said.