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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 19:59 GMT
Inside England's World Cup base
By Adam Parsons
BBC sports news correspondent

David Beckham
Beckham's arrival in Buhl is eagerly awaited

There is only one road in and out of the hotel that England's footballers will be using at the World Cup, and even that's pretty hard to find.

You have to drive up the side of a mountain, turn left at the bottom of the ski slope, go on for a mile and then bear off past the Max Grundig Klinik.

You'll probably go wrong somewhere along the line. I know I did.

People have spoken of the team staying in Baden-Baden, but they're actually six miles away, and most of that distance winds its way through forests.

If you like remote, you'd like this.

Of course, come the summer, you won't get near the place. The 90-room Schlosshotel Buhlerhohe has been booked out by the Football Association and it won't be welcoming uninvited visitors.

That one road leading to the entrance will be watched over day and night, and should you try to sneak in, you better bring your crampons.

The FA, having made a habit of trying to find the most isolated hotels possible for its players, has really excelled itself this time.

But if it will feel like a bit of a prison, at least it is a gilded cage.

Luxurious rooms, a splendid swimming pool, even a boutique selling designer clothes for those players who cannot stand a month without retail therapy.

I should have told the boutique owner to stock up, double the prices, and bring a bit of Knightsbridge to Buhl.

But this is, unmistakably, German.

A large imperial eagle peers down from the top of the building, watching over the hotel. The car park was full of very expensive Mercedes and BMWs. The place exudes a quiet sense of wealth.

The place exudes a quiet sense of wealth

Drive down the mountain, though, and you find an altogether more welcoming place. The home of Buhlertal football club is an unassuming, welcoming sort of place, with a noisy bar and two large pitches.

The FA likes it because, and this may not come as a surprise, it stands at the end of a single-track road.

It's not quite as remote as the hotel, but it's not far off. Security is the FA's watchword, and it has been applied here with vigour.

When we went there, the players were training cheerfully in the snow, and murmuring excitedly about the arrival of England.

Almost to a man, they thought Frank Lampard was the best player in the side, although Wayne Rooney's name got a fair few mentions as well.

Down in the reserved and rather genteel town of Buhl, the average person doesn't seem quite so well informed about the England players.

David Beckham's was the name that got repeated a few times, but rarely in the context of his football ability.

"I would love to see Beckham," said one woman I spoke to amid the peace of Buhl's less-than-bustling high street, her eyes rolling up, her mouth curling into broad smile.

"But I think he might be a bit too busy to come shopping here."

With footballers, though, you should never count on that.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Report: A look at England's World Cup home



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