England’s stars depart for the World Cup, heading for their ‘Pride’ plane to Qatar from St George’s Park, as Harry Kane and Co prepare for kick-off in just six days’ time after a stirring speech from Prince William
- The England squad left their base at St George’s Park bound for the World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday morning
- Prince William sent a message to the team as they departed for Doha on a mission to bring home the trophy
- He told them Gareth Southgate had ‘built something special’ and said ‘the whole country is behind you’
- Groups of young fans waved them off outside the national football centre as they stepped on the bus
- England party will fly to Doha on a Gay Pride jet called the ‘Rain Bow’ in show of defiance
England’s World Cup squad heard a rousing speech from Prince William and received encouragement from a large group of young fans as they departed for Qatar.
Gareth Southgate’s side left the national team training ground at St George’s Park this morning and headed out onto the team coach, where a huge group of supporters were waiting to cheer them on.
Addressing the players, Prince William said: ‘What you and Gareth have built here is something special, that’s clear to see.
‘Play for each other, support each other, enjoy it, and I’m sure you’ll go far.’
‘I’m really here to point out the rest of the country is behind you, we’re all rooting for you. Enjoy it.’
The England squad looked in good spirits as they boarded the coach and prepared to fly to Qatar ahead of their World Cup opener against Iran in six days time.
They will arrive in Doha on a Gay Pride jet – a ‘Rain Bow’ Virgin Atlantic A350 Airbus – in a show of defiance over the host nation amid concerns over the treatment of LGBTQ+ people at the tournament.
The England team left St George’s Park on Tuesday morning bound for the World Cup in Qatar after a send-off by young fans
Even heavy rain couldn’t dampen spirits as the England party headed to the airport for their flight to Qatar on Tuesday
Prince Williams offered words of encouragement to Harry Kane (right) and the England players as they departed for Qatar
England captain Harry Kane was speaking before the squad departed for their flight to Qatar
A group of young England fans were waiting to give the Three Lions an emotional send-off
England’s plane to Qatar, called the ‘Rain Bow’ awaits them at Birmingham Airport on Tuesday
The aircraft features a picture of Oscar, a cartoon man holding a Union Jack flag while wearing rainbow-coloured trainers, beneath the cabin
Speaking before they departed, England captain Harry Kane said: ‘I’m excited. The World Cup is a special occasion. Obviously we’re flying out today. So I’m really excited.
‘For most professional players, its the biggest tournament you can play in. I’ve been lucky enough to do one and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. And I can’t wait to get out this weather and get some sun!’
After the players boarded the two coaches, they set off for the airport as the eager fans waved their flags and chanted ‘England! England! England!’.
Kalvin Phillips boards the team coach at St George’s Park ahead of their trip to the World Cup
The England players modelled their official Marks & Spencer team gear as they got together for the first time
Newcastle striker Callum Wilson also spoke before leaving and reflected on his inclusion in the World Cup squad.
He said: ‘Over the moon. You work hard as a football player to try and get opportunities like this and it’s one that you grasp with both hands.
‘Life’s all about timing. I’ve had three years away. The pinnacle of my career was scoring on my debut for England. It’s a moment I want to add to. Going to a World Cup, there’s great opportunities to go and make history.’
More to follow