Page last updated at 18:13 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

England boss Capello opens Birmingham coach station

By Sarah Portlock
BBC News

FAbio Capello and Councillor Michael Wilkes
Fabio Capello with Birmingham's Lord Mayor at Digbeth Coach Station

It has previously been described as the "greasy spoon" of coach stations, or, by my taxi driver on the way down there, as "a dump".

But Birmingham's Digbeth Coach Station has been given some glamour by its recent revamp and by the unlikely fellow who turned up to carry out the official reopening - England football manager Fabio Capello.

Passengers waiting for their National Express buses seemed a little bemused to see Mr Capello, surrounded by FA officials, National Express staff and competition winners, head towards his photo-call next to a bus.

But, as National Express sponsor the England Team, the Italian was perhaps a natural choice to perform the official duties.

I think the state of the old station was legendary - it was iconic as a sort of greasy spoon
Birmingham Lord Mayor Michael Wilkes

Security around Mr Capello was tight but some lucky competition winners got the chance to ask him some questions, albeit pre-prepared ones, before the ceremony.

Accommodation worker Ben Hussain, 19, from Solihull, a Birmingham City fan, managed to get in a sneaky question about goalkeeper Joe Hart's chances of making it to the World Cup in the summer.

"He [Mr Capello] laughed and said that he [Hart] was young and performing well.

"He came across as a really nice bloke," Mr Hussain said.

And Shareen Muir from Stetchford, Birmingham, said meeting the football manager had been an "amazing" experience.

"He seemed to really enjoy himself," she said.

The shiny new concourse at Digbeth Coach Station
The shiny new concourse at Digbeth Coach Station

The £15m revamp, which took two years to complete, has involved the building of a new concourse, information centre and cafe.

Most people agree it is a vast improvement on the old station, a view Birmingham's Lord Mayor, Michael Wilkes, agreed with.

"I think the state of the old station was legendary - it was iconic as a sort of greasy spoon.

"This is a tremendous improvement, it really adds to the city and the local area," he said.

National Express chief executive Paul Bunting recalled passing through Digbeth on coaches as a teenager.

"I bid a fond farewell to the old place," he said.

"But I get a great deal of pleasure at seeing the changes we have delivered."



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SEE ALSO
First bus leaves revamped station
14 Dec 09 |  West Midlands
How Capello has lifted England
09 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Coach station closes for revamp
12 Nov 07 |  West Midlands

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