Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart, Daniel Sturridge and interim England Football manager Gareth Southgate have paid tribute to the nation's war dead during a visit to Stapenhill Cemetery in Burton-upon-Trent.
 
The visit came ahead of the home nation clash with Scotland and amid the FIFA controversy over whether players from both teams should be allowed to wear poppies.
 
The Three Lions representatives placed red roses, symbolic of the flower that forms part of The FA and England crests, at the graves of two fallen heroes who lost their lives as a result of injuries sustained at the Somme.  
 
The group then took part in a short ceremony at a Cross of Sacrifice, including a reading of ‘For The Fallen’ and a performance of The Last Post, before all parties laid remembrance wreaths. 
 
England players and manager lay Remembrance wreath
England players and manager lay Remembrance wreath
 
“I think it’s important for us to get a sense of perspective,” said Southgate. 
"We’re so held up in our own sport yet there are people that have given a lot more and they should be remembered for more significant acts than what we carry out on a football field. We heard a remarkable story of somebody who came from Burton-upon-Trent and went to the Battle of the Somme as a stretcher-bearer and carried some of his colleagues back off the battle field."
Rooney added: “It’s important that stories from the war get passed down and the next generation realise what these people did for our country." 
"It has been really humbling to be a part of this visit and it’s important for people to know that there are forgotten war graves in cemeteries across the UK."
Hart continued: “As we’ve heard today, you’re never more than three miles away from a war grave or a memorial in the UK and we’re helping to raise awareness of that. 
 
“Everybody sees the poppy and we all get the concept of Remembrance Day but it’s important to hear about exactly what happened and why we should remember these sacrifices.”
 
“I’ve personally learned a lot from this visit,” explained Sturridge. “It was a privilege to hear these striking stories. 
 
“It’s important not just to pay your respects in November but all year round and perhaps do some research into local war graves.”
 
While Commonwealth War Grave sites on the continent are well-known and visited, few people are aware that the commission cares for 300,000 graves and memorials throughout the UK in more than 12,000 locations, like the one at Stapenhill. 
 
England players and manager lay Remembrance wreath
England players and manager lay Remembrance wreath