The chairman of the English Football Association (FA), Greg Dyke, has visited the House of European Football in Nyon.
Mr Dyke, who has been at the association's helm since July, met UEFA President Michel Platini and senior UEFA officials. He was accompanied to Nyon by UEFA Executive Committee member and FA vice-chairman David Gill, as well as FA general secretary Alex Horne.
The talks at UEFA's headquarters come at a time when the FA, the world's oldest football association, has been celebrating its 150th anniversary. The FA was founded on 26 October 1863 when the chief clubs and schools playing their own versions of football met to form an association, with the aim being to draw up a common set of official rules under which all could play the game.
The 150th anniversary celebrations have included showpiece matches for England's national team, and UEFA recognised the contribution made by England and its association to world football by staging last season's UEFA Champions League and UEFA Women's Champions League finals in London, at Wembley and Stamford Bridge respectively. A grand gala dinner in London will cap the celebrations on 26 October.
Mr Dyke has had an outstanding career in journalism and broadcasting, serving as director-general of the BBC, managing director of London Weekend Television and chairman of ITV Sport. A lifelong football fan, and still a keen football player, he was a long-serving non-executive chairman with his boyhood club Brentford FC, and a director of Manchester United FC in the late 1990s.
"We've had very good, interesting talks with Michel Platini," Mr Dyke told UEFA.com. "I think it's important that we get to know the people at UEFA. I think there were some interesting things that came over at the talks that could be very helpful to us in what I'm trying to do in England."
Discussions in Nyon looked back at last month's strategic meeting between UEFA and its member associations in Dubrovnik, which focused in particular on the future of the European national team competitions beyond 2018. England was also announced as one of 32 member associations who have declared an interest in hosting matches at UEFA EURO 2020.
The FA chairman has enjoyed some memorable moments both playing and watching football. "I'm a great believer that there are 'days of your life', and a few of mine apply to football," he reflected. "I once played at Wembley before the [FA] Cup final – 80,000 people… and I've never been so scared in my life – but I was also in Barcelona the night that Manchester United won the treble [United won the UEFA Champions League with two last-gasp goals in the 1999 final against FC Bayern München]. That was one of the most dramatic pieces of football."
At 150 years young, the FA is relishing commemorating its venerable age and place in football's history. "I think history matters," says Mr Dyke. "It shouldn't dominate the way you are today, but it does matter. A bunch of guys sat in a pub in the middle of London [in 1863] and wrote down a set of rules – and from that became this amazing worldwide game, and that should be celebrated, because it's a remarkable achievement."
Player development and national team success are on Mr Dyke's agenda in the coming years "What's important for me is that if you're an English kid with some talent, you're given every opportunity to get through the system and play at the top level," he emphasises. "That also matters to the England team – we want as wide a group of players as we can have to play for England. We're putting in a management structure so that we can see players come through from a very young age."
A cherished dream would be to capture a major trophy – the first since the FIFA World Cup triumph on home soil in 1966. "If England wins a major tournament, it's massively beneficial for the whole of English football. You remember those years after 1966 - for a while, English football boomed… I hope that in my kids' lifetime we win some of these tournaments. I was 19 when England won the World Cup… I would like my kids to have that experience."
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