Costa Rica’s national men’s team prepared for their latest challenges by training at the home of South Shields FC.
Los Ticos are taking part in a friendly international against Saudi Arabia at St James’s Park in Newcastle on Friday.
In the lead-up to the fixture, Costa Rica’s squad – including three-time Champions League winner Keylor Navas, ex-Arsenal man Joel Campbell and Sunderland starlet Jewison Bennette – had three training sessions at 1st Cloud Arena.
Costa Rica national team’s administrative director, Diego Brenes, said: “There is a long tradition of football, great facilities and great atmospheres in the north of England.
“We are very thankful with the organisation at South Shields FC, who we have developed a great relationship with.
“The team at the club was great in having everything ready for us, and the team was very impressed.
“For a sixth tier team to have these kinds of facilities is very impressive. The pitch is very well maintained and the stadium is very nice.
“The club has an average attendance of more than 2,000, which is amazing.
“The team has come from lower divisions in recent years, and with the organisation they have, hopefully they can continue to go up the leagues.”
Costa Rica are preparing for the start of the CONCACAF Nations League, as well as next summer’s Copa America in the United States.
The players, too, were hugely impressed by the facilities at South Shields.
Defender Francisco Calvo, who plays his club football in Turkey with Konyaspor, said: “The welcome we received was beautiful.
“The people are very welcoming and kind, and we were very happy to be there.
“It was surprising to see such brilliant facilities for a club at that level, but it’s England.
“It made me happy to see those kind of facilities at this level, and we need to take lessons from this back home and try to do something similar.”