How secret training near Exmouth helped England to The World Cup semi-finals

PUBLISHED: 15:38 11 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:52 11 July 2018

England's Raheem Sterling successfully completes the 'sheep dip' on the Royal Marines Endurance Course. Royal Navy/PA Wire.

England's Raheem Sterling successfully completes the 'sheep dip' on the Royal Marines Endurance Course. Royal Navy/PA Wire.

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As England’s football team gears up to face Croatia in tonight’s semi-final, England manager Gareth Southgate has credited the impact of a secret squad training session near Exmouth for his players’ spirit, strength and success in this year’s World Cup.

England's Jake Livermore applies cam cream to his face. Royal Navy/PA Wire.England's Jake Livermore applies cam cream to his face. Royal Navy/PA Wire.

Last summer the England team trained at the Royal Marine Commando Training Centre, at Lympstone, where the 20-strong squad were put through a series of gruelling challenges usually reserved for marine recruits.

England's Fraser Forster successfully completes the 'sheep dip' on the Royal Marines Endurance Course. The England squad experienced a different kind of boot camp over the weekend after manager Gareth Southgate arranged a top secret trip to the Royal Marines' Commando Training Centre. Royal Navy/PA Wire.England's Fraser Forster successfully completes the 'sheep dip' on the Royal Marines Endurance Course. The England squad experienced a different kind of boot camp over the weekend after manager Gareth Southgate arranged a top secret trip to the Royal Marines' Commando Training Centre. Royal Navy/PA Wire.

The squad camped out on Woodbury Common, completed a four-mile hike carrying 21 kilos on their backs and tackled the formidable commando course, which included underwater challenges.

The England manager said how training with the Royal Marines at Lympstone had taken the squad out of their comfort zone.

England's Raheem Sterling (left) and Dele Alli set up their sleeping bags. Royal Navy/PA Wire.England's Raheem Sterling (left) and Dele Alli set up their sleeping bags. Royal Navy/PA Wire.

He said a theme of the training camp included showing the team how to adapt in moments of difficulty, which could be transferred to competition.

The England squad experienced a different kind of boot camp over the weekend after manager Gareth Southgate arranged a top secret trip to the Royal Marines' Commando Training Centre. Royal Navy/PA Wire.The England squad experienced a different kind of boot camp over the weekend after manager Gareth Southgate arranged a top secret trip to the Royal Marines' Commando Training Centre. Royal Navy/PA Wire.

“There were some team objectives around pushing themselves beyond where they thought they could go and knowing you don’t want to let any of your team-mates down,” Southgate said.

“We wanted to expose the guys to an elite environment with one of the elite forces in the world. We wanted them to see that there’s another world out there.”

Colonel Mike Tanner, Commandant of the Royal Marine Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, said: “They threw themselves into every challenge with enthusiasm and good humour.

“The Royal Marines and England football team have much in common and the opportunity to share experience was valuable for us all.”

The squad’s boot camp included spending the weekend dressed in army fatigue.

The team took on the Commando endurance course, across the rough moorland of Woodbury Common, tackling tunnels, pipes, wading pools and underwater obstacles and challenges, including the infamous Sheep Deep, which ‘even the toughest Commandos have nightmares about’.

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