Manchester City's £200m training complex officially opens
Player accommodation with decor designed by sleep experts and a 56-seat auditorium to view video clips are just two key elements of Manchester City's new £200m training complex.
It also boasts a 7,000-capacity stadium, education facilities and medical and sports science services.
The 80-acre site was officially opened on Monday and attended by Chancellor George Osborne.
"I have never seen anything like it," said City defender Pablo Zabaleta.
The project, funded by City's owners and built in partnership with Manchester City Council, was conceived following the takeover of the Premier League club by Sheikh Mansour in 2008.
Built on the site of a former chemical works, it includes:
- 16.5 pitches, including a full-size synthetic indoor pitch
- A 56-seat TV auditorium for players to review video clips
- Four-star accommodation with king-sized beds and bathrooms
- A 7,000-capacity arena for use by academy and women's teams
- 40,000km of artificial turf on 5.5 pitches, each one different so the team can tailor match preparations for away games
City's first team has been based there since October and already stay in the hotel-standard rooms before home games.
The complex is connected to the Etihad Stadium by a bridge and houses all of the club's teams, from age-group sides to men's and women's senior squads - a total in excess of 450 individuals weekly.
Patrick Vieira thinks the facility will help the club attract the best young players in the world.
"If we go into the market and we compete to bring young players or first-team players in, having a facility like this can only help," said the former City midfielder, who runs the club's elite development squad.
"When you are a young, talented player from Manchester - or worldwide - you want the best possible facilities to challenge and improve yourself."
A World Cup winner with France who also played club football for Arsenal, AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan, Vieira, 38, believes City's new complex is like no other.
"Arsenal was really good, Inter was really good, but I think this training facility takes it to a different level," he said.
City visited venues around the world to get ideas for their own academy, parts of which will also be used by the local community.
City's new facility has more pitches (16.5) than Real Madrid's Ciudad training complex (13.5), the Football Association's National Football Centre at St George's Park (12), and Barcelona's Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper (9).
The building that houses City's first-team squad contains a hypoxic chamber where players can run at altitude or in extreme temperatures, a hydro-therapy area for treating injuries and even a hydro treadmill with underwater cameras to monitor a player's movement.
There is also a lounge, a refectory and a 56-seat TV auditorium where coaching staff and players can review video clips from training.
There is also accommodation that includes king-sized beds and en-suite bathrooms, with the decor designed specially by sleep experts.
There is also a department solely dedicated to advising players on such matters as tax, mental health, drinking, drugs and social media.
"Our aim is to see young footballers realise their full potential both on and off the field," said City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
Zabaleta says Lionel Messi and the rest of the Argentina squad were impressed with the facility when they trained there ahead of last month's friendly against Portugal at Old Trafford.
"Everyone was impressed," said the Argentina full-back. "When you come here and see the buildings and stuff, it is fantastic."
Osborne hailed the complex as a model example for others to follow.
"I am a strong believer in improving sporting facilities for young people," said the Chancellor, who used the event to announce a £50m five-year government investment in grassroots football.