Stadium fire on eve of England W Cup game

A fire has broken out at Andorra’s national stadium on the eve of the World Cup qualifier against England.

The European Championship finalists are in the Pyrenees ahead of Saturday evening’s Group I clash against the side from the tiny nation that’s ranked 156th in the world.

England trained at the Estadi Nacional on Friday lunchtime, before manager Gareth Southgate and stand-in captan Kieran Trippier faced the media.

Shortly after they left the 3,300-capacity stadium, a spectacular fire broke out on the TV gantry, with black smoke filling the air as flames ripped through the structure.

One onlooker said welders were working there before the blaze.

Stadium staff tried to get the fire under control with the pitch sprinklers before the fire brigade arrived. Police were also in attendance, along with UEFA and Andorran Football Federation staff.

The Football Association is trying to ascertain if there is any impact on Saturday evening’s qualifier in Andorra la Valle.

A dugout melted and the video assistant referee’s monitor was burnt, with the walls blackened by the fire.

There was debris on a part of the pitch and widespread damage to the touchline in Andorra, where they have an artificial surface.

England’s 24-man squad got a feel for Andorra’s artificial pitch on the eve of the game and Southgate does not feel he has to protect any players like Harry Kane – albeit Trippier’s role as captain all but confirms the striker will not start.

Trippier reckoned he couldn’t wait to lead England out in front of fans for the first time.

The 31-year-old has established himself as a key component of the Three Lions set-up since making his debut in a friendly against France in 2017.

Atletico Madrid full-back Trippier shone in the run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and will win his 35th cap in Andorra.

He skippered the national team in a friendly against Wales this time last year, but this will be the first time he will captain England in front of supporters.

“Unbelievable feeling,” Trippier said. “I’m speechless, really, to captain my country and lead the boys out. Something I’ll never, ever forget.”

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