Jason Steele is, he tells us, under orders from his dad. "He's told me to get as much memorabilia as possible," says the Middlesbrough goalkeeper, sitting behind a place card which reads Jason Steele Olympic Athlete. There is an understandable desire to gauge where Olympic football in Britain will register among a sporting public looking at a third successive football tournament in two months, the end of the Premier League, the European Championship and now this. Perhaps its best measure comes in the boyish delight of those taking part.
Stuart Pearce, the Team GB coach - "Was I stagestruck in the village? No, I'm a dour bugger. I don't get stagestruck" - spoke about a unique spirit among his squad, something he has never encountered in his three campaigns in European Championships and World Cups as a player with England, or during his time as manager of the Under-21 side.
"Going into the Olympic village last Monday took their breath away," he said. "The size of it all hit home to the staff and the players. Even though it was quiet because it was the first day, it showed what this encompasses.
"We know there's something special. When I've spoken to the players individually and said, 'How are you feeling about it?' they say they find it different to when they're with the England squad. There's just something special about it, that probably we can't put into words.
"There's something of a magnitude which is just incredible, that we're involved in. The advice to all the players is, 'Look we're in it, let's give it our best and try and win the tournament'."
Perhaps what stands out most is the disbelief that these people are involved in the Olympics, and the lack of crushing expectation. Football used to be like this. Old Trafford is expected to be full next Thursday, when the campaign starts, against Senegal.
"When it was announced we were going to have a team in the Olympics, I don't think people were particularly sure what the magnitude of it all would be," added Pearce. "But we've got three group games that are pretty much sold out. I can only draw on my experience of tournament football. I played in my first tournament at the World Cup in 1990 and a quarter of a million people met us at Luton Airport even though we'd been beaten in the semifinal. That generated huge excitement within the country. Then at Euro 96, it was football in an environment like I'd never known it. If these players get a taste in this tournament of what I experienced in 1996, they will be the richer for it, that's for sure. It blew me away and blew my family away. It was an experience that no one in that squad will forget."
Steele, at least, has been forewarned: "We're in hotels the majority of the time, we travel around and play games, so to go into that sort of environment is a big culture shock because you're no longer just yourself as a group of 18, you're now 500-odd athletes all part of a team. To experience that was brilliant, and I think we're going back there as well. It'll probably be even busier when we go back and it'll be something else.
"To be honest, I don't really think it'll sink in properly until it's all over. In years to come I'm sure I'll cherish this forever."
Preparation will intensify tonight, when Team GB face the much-fancied Brazilians at the Riverside Stadium. Daniel Sturridge, who has been suffering from viral meningitis, should play after impressing in training. A decision on his participation in the Games will follow the match.
Preceding Team GB tomorrow will be Team GB women, who face Sweden on the same ground, at four o'clock. The Olympics are offering a real opportunity to the women's game, as head coach Hope Powell admitted.
"We want to set a long-lasting legacy," she said. "We want to show that women's football is a good product. We want it valued as a sport in its own right. This gives us a platform to showcase the sport.
"It will give us a benchmark as to where we are in the squad. The girls have trained very well and hard. Sweden are highly ranked, World Cup winners, so this will determine how much more we need to do."
- IndependentBy Martin Hardy