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William, Kate see new FA centre - and Ashley Cole

They were introduced to players including captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, and there was laughter from the squad as William shook Cole’s hand.

Britain's Duke of Cambridge meets England players after training.
Britain's Duke of Cambridge meets England players after training.
Image: Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images

BRITAIN’S PRINCE WILLIAM and his wife Kate opened English football’s new centre of excellence today — and were introduced to defender Ashley Cole despite his Twitter furore.

The royal couple were among the first guests at the new £105 million (€130 million euro) St George’s Park complex at Burton-upon-Trent, which will be the new training base for all 24 England teams from junior to senior levels.

William and Catherine met members of the senior squad, who are training at the central England facility ahead of England’s World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland. They were introduced to players including captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, and there was laughter from the squad as William shook Cole’s hand.

Cole’s place in the team for Friday is uncertain after he made a foul-mouthed Twitter outburst at the Football Association, English football’s governing body, following accusations he had provided “evolving” evidence supporting Chelsea teammate John Terry in his FA racism hearing.

In a speech, the prince, who is a fan of Aston Villa and also the president of the FA, praised the “wonderful facilities and beautiful surroundings”.

“St George’s Park, and the concept that underpins it, is something totally new. It will be far more than just a world-class facility for training our future world-beating national team,” he said. ”It is more than just the university from which thousands of highly qualified coaches will graduate.

“It is also a magnificent example of the sort of social initiative that brings opportunity and purpose to wider British life.”

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