Scrabble and wedding DVDs replaced by movies and cricket … how tournament teams deal with boredom

Scrabble and wedding DVDs have been replaced by cinema and cricket … how international teams managed to avoid boredom in summer tournaments ahead of Euro 2020

  • International teams often got bored at summer tournaments
  • Jermain Defoe Watched Wayne Rooney’s 2010 World Cup Wedding DVD
  • This year England has a cinema and cricket ground at its base in St George’s Park
  • German striker Kevin Volland reportedly brought backgammon with him

For several years, Marcus Allback has been in charge of organizing the Swedish base for any international trip or tournament.

“If Zlatan, for some reason, wasn’t on that team,” he explains, “we could almost walk from the hotel to the arena.

But when Ibrahimovic traveled, Sweden erected fences, found a room away from prying eyes, and kept key details secret from hotel staff. “It was crazy,” Allback says.

Marcus Allback revealed how Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s presence created chaos when he traveled for the national team for tournaments

It seems like a cinch compared to the efforts the teams put in this summer. The need for secure Covid bubbles makes security simpler. But it also means that the entertainment has to be internal.

The danger? Another passage in a “luxury prison”. At the 2010 World Cup England players got so bored in Rustenburg that Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney had to watch the entire Rooney wedding DVD.

Before this team arrived at St George’s Park, two FA staff would have worked full time to make it feel right at home. An open-air cinema, cricket pitch, and press conference space that resembles a beer garden. It’s not quite Euro 96, when Gareth Southgate liked Scrabble games.

Jermain Defoe was so bored at the 2010 World Cup, he watched Wayne Rooney's wedding DVD

Jermain Defoe was so bored at the 2010 World Cup, he watched Wayne Rooney’s wedding DVD

Gareth Southgate played Scrabble at Euro 96 but has a cinema and cricket pitch for Euro 2020

Gareth Southgate played Scrabble at Euro 96 but has a cinema and cricket pitch for Euro 2020

Scottish Andrew Robertson greeted his teammates with a basket including shortbread and Irn-Bru, several Welsh players brought their virtual F1 drivers’ championship to Baku. After transporting the steering wheels and pedals to hotel rooms, it was time for sightseeing: they recently “ran” through the streets of the Azerbaijani capital.

The German Bavarian base, meanwhile, has been adapted to recreate the conditions for their 2014 World Cup victory. “We want to awaken a spirit,” said national team manager Oliver Bierhoff. In Brazil, Germany was surrounded by sandy beaches. Here, everything is forest and ‘large windows’. Everything is deliberate – the short walk to the canteen, even the “creation of a market-style space,” according to one report.

Young players cohabit with older statesmen – Jamal Musiala is with Captain Manuel Neuer, who has also requested a Padel tennis court. Forward Kevin Volland is said to have brought backgammon. Fortunately, there are also soccer fields.

German striker Kevin Volland reportedly brought backgammon to fight boredom

German striker Kevin Volland reportedly brought backgammon to fight boredom

Symptoms of tournament fever can be more difficult to detect when matches are spread across Europe. But in south London on Wednesday it was clear: the Grealish variant had spread to five at Vauxhall.

A team wearing retro Nottingham Forest shirts included a tall boy wearing blue and green socks. Yes, rolled under his calves, with agricultural shin guards sunk into his astros.

Read the play, Gareth.

It’s not a Knysna mutiny yet, but you know the world heals when tales of the French tournament start to emerge.

All this pre-Euro harmony – Karim Benzema was back, a team to make your mouth water – didn’t quite work. So hat Olivier Giroud, whose remarks on a lack of service would have offended Kylian Mbappé.

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