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Gerrard and Rooney graduated from grassroots football hotbed

The Football Association and McDonald’s are celebrating the launch of the 2012 FA Community Awards by unveiling figures that highlight the impact that grassroots football has had in creating players for the England senior team over the last 50 years.

Merseyside leads the way with 36 players – including Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard - progressing from local parks to Wembley Stadium since 1966, producing more England internationals per head of population than anywhere else. In the last 46 years the region is responsible for one international for every 58,000 local citizens.

The FA Community Awards with McDonald’s celebrates grassroots football volunteers and their achievements with Merseyside contributing more England internationals, such as Liverpool-born Steven Gerrard and Leighton Baines graduating from grassroots football to international stars - having added to their international caps total in England’s last outing against Holland in February.

In contrast the far more populous Greater London produces one capped England player for every 91,000 people and is only ranked 5th.

County Durham's football hotbed

Using the same formula which sees Merseyside on top, County Durham – birthplace of former England skipper Bryan Robson – comes second with the top five completed by Nottinghamshire and Tyne and Wear.

When it comes to producing attacking flair on the football pitch, Nottinghamshire leads the way – with more strikers than any other region per head of population going from grassroots to the international stage.

However, when it comes to keeping the ball out of the net, County Durham takes the crown producing an England international defender for every 151,000 people in the area.

Merseyside sit second and Greater London a distant third with an England stopper for every 259,000 people, despite having produced pedigree such as Stuart Pearce and Rio Ferdinand since England’s World Cup triumph on home soil in 1966.

The FA has also released new data underscoring the sheer scale of the grassroots game.

Grassroots growing strong in England:

· In England there are enough community football volunteers to fill Wembley Stadium 4 times over, with 400,000 grassroots volunteers giving up over 250 years of time to help grassroots football flourish a week

· 8,263 miles of white lines are painted on England’s amateur football pitches each week from Hackney Marshes to Newcastle Football Centre – enough to paint the entire UK coastline

· Mums and dads across the country have a total of 186,000 football boots to clean each week

Commenting on the findings, Sir Geoff Hurst, 1966 hero, Manchester born England striker with 49 caps and 24 goals, and now McDonald's Director of Football, said: “Every international player comes from the grassroots. All the stars of today began at a local club run by a local coach.

“These people are the foundation of the game. Their remarkable dedication and passion is what we celebrate in The FA Community Awards presented by McDonald’s. Each year I am humbled by the contribution these grassroots heroes make year in and year out to ensure millions of youngsters and adults can enjoy the national game.”

Nominations for The FA Community Awards presented by McDonald’s are now open. To vote for a football coach, club or volunteer click here.

Follow us on twitter: @2012Grassroots/#grassrootsheroes

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