Cricket, beer, darts and yoga – England unwind amid growing Euros pressure

Defender Marc Guehi playing darts against the media
Marc Guehi played darts with the media this week - Paul Grover for The Telegraph

England players got away from the pressures of Euro 2024 by drinking beers and relaxing by the swimming pool before stepping up their preparations for the knockout stages.

Gareth Southgate’s team have failed to hit their peak form in Germany but qualified for the last 16 on Tuesday with a goalless draw against Slovenia, with the squad travelling 400 kilometres straight back to their Spa & GolfResort Weimarer Land where players were allowed to let their hair down the following day.

Rather than doing their “warm-down” on training pitches, they held an indoor recovery session and did yoga before being given time off. It is understood that players enjoyed morale-boosting drinks together and socialised around the pool at their resort.

Southgate has also allowed families to visit the camp after matches, although it has not been as busy as other tournaments owing to England’s location in central Germany, which means hours of travel after matches in the west.

The team-bonding session has been part of Southgate’s players attempting to block out the “noise” of the tournament, where they have been disappointing in parts of their matches against Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia. They face Slovakia next in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday and a consistent message from players is that they are sticking together.

“We are in a strong position,” said goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale. “The boys who have played and did media duties have summed it up - we’ve not played our best stuff but you win stuff sticking together and let the outside noise be the outside noise.”

Players have also been bonding with informal games of cricket, with a square set up next to their training pitches at their Blankenhain basecamp. Harry Kane was at Tottenham when indoor cricket was part of the team bonding during Jose Mourinho’s time at the club.

Southgate’s squad have also been throwing a mini-American football around between themselves. Kane is known to be a huge NFL fan and has previously talked about being a kicker.

Jude Bellingham revealed he would have liked to have been a quarterback if he played another sport. His former club, Birmingham, last season received investment from Tom Brady, who is regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.