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William and Kate score with the England squad at FA centre of excellence opening

9 October 2012
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have visited Burton-Upon-Trent to unveil the new FA training ground at St George's Park. William and Kate toured the state-of-the-art facility and watch the national squad being put through their paces by England manager Roy Hodgson. Star players Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole were all present for the VIP training session ahead of their 2014 World Cup qualifier against San Marino on Friday.As the FA's Honourary President, Prince William was the natural choice to cut the ribbon at the £105 million national football centre.

William and Kate

 By his side, the Duchess was the perfect talisman, looking snug and seasonal in a grey winter coat by Reiss which she teamed with knee-high boots, opaque tights and a waist-nipping belt. While Kate's attire was a sartorial hit, it limited her mobility on the new football fields.  Asked by local MP Andrew Griffiths if she would join him in a kick about the 30-year-old quipped: "Can I borrow some trainers?". Although told it could be arranged, the royal declined with a polite smile.    Mr Griffiths said super-fit Kate talked of her love of sport, and how she had learned some helicopter jargon on the up flight from London. "She said it has been a great year for sport, and this was a fitting end to it. She has been picking up on the helicopter chat. William was talking to the pilot and she is now into the helicopter chat." Scores of photographers had gathered in the lobby to see William and Kate's touch down near the hallowed turf and watch them become amongst the first visitors to sign the centre's guest book.

Kate and William

Once inside, they made their way to the fields and met England's footballing heroes. The players – clearly captivated with the Duchess – looked thrilled as they posed for pictures with the royal couple. While football talk would have flowed naturally for fervent Aston Villa fan William, Reading follower Kate managed to hold her own, sharing a joke with captain Steven Gerrard.  Her husband's passion for his team even spilled over into a Q and A session for team coaches, with William cheekily saying: "I've got a quick question - I was just wondering if Aston Villa were ever going to win the Premiership." He was promptly told the club's manager still had "some work to do". The pair's presence was the perfect way to celebrate a state-of-the art football facility that has been 20 years in the making. FA chairman David Bernstein described the unveiling as "a fantastic day for football". The Duchess will be making the most of having her husband by her side during a hectic week of engagements.  On Wednesday, she will go solo for a whole day's tour of the North East while William attends the funeral of his former nanny, Olga Powell, who passed away last week.

Kate FA

  Kate will meet youngsters with cerebral palsy at Newcastle's Civic Centre before calling in on Keyfund at Gateshead Youth Council – one of the charities chosen to benefit from the Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund. The royal will meet youths who have been supported by the organisation, which helps young people reach their full potential and invests in their ideas using Dragons' Den style mentoring. She will also go on a walkabout, where thousands are expected to gather to get a glimpse of the raven-haired beauty.

Kate FA

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