England’s tournament camps: Too remote, too dangerous and the one with inflatable unicorns

In the build-up to their World Cup quarter-final against Portugal in 2006, a group of senior England players asked for a meeting with Sven-Goran Eriksson.

They were worried. Everything was too relaxed. In theory, the squad were isolated from the outside world, their hotel perched above the Rhine Valley and the Black Forest, but the reality was proving rather different.

Their families were staying nearby, in the German spa town of Baden-Baden, and their presence felt more and more like a distraction. Most of the players had wanted their families nearby, but it had got out of hand. There was a media frenzy around the so-called WAGs (wives and girlfriends), whose presence Rio Ferdinand later called “a bit of a circus”.

Some players were coming and going as they pleased.