Former England internationals select Loughborough as their training base

Former England internationals Des Walker and Dennis Wise have chosen Loughborough University’s campus for an extensive training camp - all in the name of unearthing the next Indonesian football talent.

The former Premier League icons now lead the team at Garuda Select, a side that features aspiring young Indonesian players aiming to secure a lucrative move to one of Europe’s top clubs.

Established in January 2019, Garuda Select is a long-term football coaching program with its selected players training in the UK and regularly competing against the academy sides of professional teams.

During the visit to Loughborough University the squad will train on campus, using such elite-level facilities as the hybrid stadium pitch, the high-performance grass pitches, and also the new 4G pitch at Holywell.

The team will also stay at Loughborough’s range of on-site hotels and accommodation throughout their five-month stay.

Both Wise and Walker represented England at various stages of their career, with Walker playing an integral part of the side which narrowly missed out on a place in the final at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy.

Garuda Select playing on campus

Speaking to Loughborough Sport, Dennis Wise explained his reasons behind choosing Loughborough as a base:

“It’s got everything in-house here and that's what you need. Top elite people come here, and you can see why because they have access to all the top stuff which is needed to develop and progress young elite athletes in many ways – in football, in rugby, in athletics – it was the best place for us I’ve got to say.

“It’s very Covid safe, the standards are very high in the rules and regulations and obviously they’ve got to look after every elite athlete that comes here.”

Wise, 54, made 445 appearances at Chelsea between 1990 and 2001 and won the FA Cup three times in a career that also saw him play for Wimbledon, Millwall, and Leicester City. He added:

“What we're trying to do is developing them into footballers that have an opportunity of playing in Europe.”

Wise’s thoughts were echoed by Walker, who is still recognised as one of the best centre backs of his generation and remains to this day a firm fans’ favourite at both Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday where he spent most of his career.

Garuda select play on campus

“For me, Loughborough University is probably the premier facility in the country,” he said.

“One of the main aspects we're trying to improve in the players is professionalism and taking responsibility. To come to a venue like this, where the facilities are as good as anywhere in the country, is a massive bonus for us.

“You know straight away we are giving them that professionalism and you're training in an environment that's second to none.”

Wise and Walker’s backroom coaching team also includes Loughborough University alumnus Jake Fitzsimmons, who was happy to be back on familiar soil:

“I don't think there's a university in the world that can prepare you for the real world, but I think Loughborough is probably the best at getting you as prepared as you can be.

“For someone who wants to work in sport, you're surrounded by the best facilities in the world and elite athletes and coaches that have been there and done it.

“The facilities have always been world-class…they just create great environments full of great people that you can chat to and build a good network within sport.

“I think since I've left the facilities have only got better and the place is developing all the time…Holywell gym has been developed even further and it's just one of the best gyms in the world in my opinion.”

Speaking about the Covid secure environment, Jake added:

“It feels really secure…the sport team are working really closely with the hotel on campus to make sure we’re really safe.”

Loughborough University is a recognised Elite Training Centre with one of the largest concentrations of world-class sports facilities in the UK. To find out more about hosting elite training camps and events on its Covid secure campus click HERE

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 21/41

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2020 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2021.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.