Several members of England’s U21 football squad paid a poignant visit to the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on Saturday.
In Poland for the UEFA U21 European Championships, the squad had a day off ahead of their semi-final match against Germany on Tuesday, and along with head coach Aidy Boothroyd and other members of staff, spent a couple of hours at the site.
Captain James Ward-Prowse said it was a trip many of the players wanted to make, telling FA.com: “It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long while and I think a few of the other lads felt the same as well. It was something we raised when we knew that we had some free time between games that we’d like to do, come and visit Auschwitz to pay our respects to those who sadly lost their lives.
“It was moving and a very humbling experience for all of us.It’s obviously a tragic thing that happened and it’s been an experience for us to come and see what went on and where it happened. It’s good to be able to use some of our time in Poland to come and see it.”
Boothroyd said: “It was something that we wanted to do, it’s a poignant and quite an upsetting place, but it’s somewhere that everybody should visit to see what happened there.
“It is a place that I’m glad I’ve gone to, it just puts things into perspective and in a strange way, I’m pleased that a lot of the lads wanted to go and visit to show their respect.
“We’ve done what I think is the right thing. Everybody wanted to go, staff and players, so I’m glad we’ve done it.”
The group were taken on a guided tour of two main sites at Auschwitz, which included a walk into the death chambers, before heading a few kilometres to the second camp at Birkenau.
Southampton midfielder Ward-Prowse added: “You hear and learn about the Holocaust and it’s a tragic thing, but to actually go to Auschwitz and see the scale of it, it brings it home to you about the enormity of it all.”