ENGLAND and Scotland have been involved in some famous clashes down the years, both on the football pitch and also on the battlefield.
And ahead of Saturday’s trip north of the border to face Scotland in a World Cup qualifier, England boss Gareth Southgate stunned his players by taking them to an army training base.
After reporting for duty at St George’s Park on Friday, a place known for its five-star facilities for footballers, Southgate’s stars were taken to Devon for 48 hours – and transported into a different world.
The entire squad were forced to hand over their mobile phones – although life got even tougher after that.
They then experienced a string of activities which all Royal Marines recruits have to undertake – and that included a night on Woodbury Common.
Southgate said: “We wanted to come and put the guys into a different environment, something they weren’t expecting.
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“The Marines talk about a dislocated expectation, and that was part of the theme of the camp – how will we be adaptable in moments of difficulty for us as a team.
“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.
“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.
“These guys represent Queen and country, and we do the same – but the consequences of failure for the Royal Marines are far higher. That gives us a good context and comparison.”
England’s players returned from the South West on Sunday and were allowed to go home for 48 hours.
This was in contrast to Southgate’s previous curfew on England duty which followed Wayne Rooney gatecrashing a wedding for a late-night booze session after the team’s win over Scotland.
The group will return to St George’s Park for training this morning before heading to Glasgow on Friday.
Following Saturday’s game, they fly to Paris to prepare for a friendly against France on Tuesday.
Reflecting on the trip to the camp, Southgate added: “I think we’ve taken so many different learnings forward from this in so many different areas, some of which are going to take a few days to sink in.
“For me, the greatest outcome was that we worked as one team – support staff and players. I think there was a real connection formed between everybody, and it was also a great life experience for everybody.
“We’re always thinking about football and the small world we’re in, but there are life experiences that’ll stay with you forever and I think this will stay with everyone – from our side and the Marines’ side.
“We’ve seen their standards and the pride they have in their identity and the green beret, which is a powerful message for us to link with the Three Lions. We’ve got to be brave in terms of how we play and what we do.”
The Commando Training Centre’s commandant, Colonel Mike Tanner, said: “It has been a real pleasure.
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.
“We are confident that this will be the start of a long and successful relationship.”
Chris Smalling, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford, who won the Europa League with Manchester United, were allowed to miss the trip. Eric Dier was also absent due to his sister’s wedding while Gary Cahill was given an extended break.
Star striker Harry Kane, meanwhile, is relishing the prospect of his first England appearance under Gareth Southgate after missing the last six games through injury.
The Tottenham striker, who won the Premier League golden boot with 29 goals after a superb end to the domestic campaign, is set to lead the line at Hampden Park and could even be captain.
Southgate has left former captain Wayne Rooney out of the squad and is yet to name a replacement for the trip to Hampden Park.
Kane said: “I see myself as one of the leaders now in the team and I’m looking forward to it.
“I’m only 23 but I feel that there are a lot of younger players in the team compared to me and I have a good relationship with them. I have a good relationship with all the players, the older, the younger and there are quite a few Spurs boys in there as well.
“It helps as we play with each other, train with each other day in, day out so we know each other very well on the pitch but off the pitch also. If someone is feeling a bit down, or if they’re not quite right then we are there to know that and help them out.”
Both teams are set to wear black armbands on Saturday following the attacks in London and Manchester.