At 3:00am, my LFE trip begun with a journey from south Manchester to Huddersfield. Upon arrival, I met up with the rest of my teammates as we set out from there on our adventure to Seville.
A coach trip took us to Leeds-Bradford airport as we embarked on our flight to Malaga airport. A 45-minute delay allowed us to catch up on some valuable sleep!
After another coach journey from Malaga to Seville, we had finally arrived and could focus on the amazing opportunity we have been given by LFE to experience a different footballing culture and challenge ourselves against teams as good as Sevilla.
After 15 hours of travel, we were able to let off steam by getting in the hotel’s swimming pool for an hour, accompanied by the glorious sunshine, before tucking into a buffet that included an array of options for everyone to tuck into.
I made the most of the ice cream on offer by taking numerous different flavoured scoops, to the deepest concern of our sports scientist, Lee Mellor!
The following day started with a trip to our training base in San Jose as we got ready for a double training session. The facilities were nothing less than we could have hoped for with spacious changing rooms, a great surface to play on and some decent weather for a change – definitely a stark contrast to the rain and wind of Yorkshire!
The heat is definitely the biggest challenge of all to adapt to, but we knew that this was going to make us physically and mentally stronger players and would therefore improve us massively as a team and individuals.
We were quickly introduced to our guest coach, Antonio, for the morning, who was previously head of coaching at Sevilla academy. We began differently to the usual sessions back in England, with Antonio instantly getting us on the move with the ball at our feet, rather than a traditional warm up of stretching and mobility to activate our muscles. I was expecting this with the Spanish way of football being known for their exceptional technical quality and their love for being on the ball as much as possible.
The lads and I thoroughly enjoyed the session from Antonio, which involved an 8v8 game where one team’s objective was to score in a choice of four nets on each side of one half, while the other team had to make a certain amount of passes to score. This was an interesting activity as it forced you to adapt to situations where you either have to press and score or keep the ball and try to defend all four sides of the pitch.
Back at the hotel, we went to the meeting room for our first Spanish lesson of the tour from our teacher Lucia. Luckily, I’ve studied Spanish in school for the last five years, so I had a big upper hand on my teammates and was able to amuse myself by watching the others fail in their attempts to speak just the basics of the Spanish language. ¡Fue muy divertido ver!
After another brief sunbathing session and a swim in the pool, we were once again on our way to San Jose for our second session of the day. We began with a core and strength circuit in Mellor’s makeshift gym, doing exercises such as planks and pull ups.
Then we moved on to some position-specific work with different coaches. As a forward, I went with Tony Carrs to practice one-touch finishing after making a bursting run through the defence.
After returning to the hotel and eating dinner, it was time for the biggest part of the day for many of us. We were all attending court for a decision on who was guilty of fines within the group and what their fine would be. Leigh Bromby was the judge and found numerous team members (including myself) guilty of being late or sleeping on the coach before training, thus resulting in a €5 fine or being given the struggle of a press up challenge.
Brombs thought this was all well and good until it was my time to stand up and charge his honour for turning up 16 minutes late to tea that evening. Brombs rightly pleaded guilty and so we’ve set up a race between him and the fastest member of the team, Jacko (Ben Jackson) with huge consequences. If Jacko wins, he pays all (18) of our €10 fines for losing two footballs. If Brombs wins then these €10 fines are doubled. The stakes couldn’t be higher!
Court came to an end and I decided it was only fair I now embarrassed some of my teammates playing FIFA on the Xbox before going to bed to rest up for another tough double session.