How many times have the English National Team been slated for all the praise accumulated by English Premier League? How many times have the English lads been under scrutiny for not performing for country but excelling at club level? How many times have England been criticized of having not won the FIFA World Cup in the last 50 years? The answer to all the questions about English National Football is finally here. Not just once, but twice in this year.
Yes, it is almost 50 years ago the England National Football Team under the management of Sir Alf Ramsey landed its first and only World Cup till the start of this year. However the England U-20 Football Team and the England U-17 Football Team have won the World Cup much to the praise of almost every football fanatic. Both the teams had won their first title this time around after years of participation in the respective tournaments, with the U-17 team winning their title in an emphatic fashion scoring 23 goals from 7 games.
The England u-17 National Team by winning their maiden FIFA World Cup in India have proved that England Senior NT has a fantastic chance to win the FIFA Men’s World Cup in the near future. In the article, we shall see how England found their path to India and win the Finale from there on.
Road to India:
Having performed exceptionally well in the 2017 U-17 European Championship, England U-17 National Team finished the tournament as runners up to Spain. Finishing as the runners up in continental level helped the English Team to qualify to the FIFA U-17 World Cup. They qualified as one among the five teams from the UEFA and were placed in Pot 2 based on the performances from the previous FIFA U-17 World Cups.
After the draws of the group, England under Steve Cooper were put in the Group F along with Iraq, Mexico and Chile. England started the campaign with a brilliant 4-0 win against Chile. They were quite good defensively as they kept two clean sheets in the process of qualifying to the round of 16. They racked up 11 goals while collecting nine points from 3 games leaving just 2 goals against them. Their finish in the Group Stages certainly marked them as favourites among the other big teams such as Spain, France and Brazil.
Round of 16:
In the round of 16, England were plotted against the Asian Giants Japan who had finished second to France in Group E. England’s match up versus Japan can be said as the most evenly matched contest of the tournament as both the teams were unable to break the deadlock after normal time. At the end of 90 minutes, extra time was proposed and even after that both the teams remained level. In the penalties, England finally overcame Japan after dominating them for most of the game. All the England penalties were converted and they progressed to the final eight.
In the Quarter-Finals, England came up against the USA who had put five past Paraguay in the previous round. Certainly the test against USA was expected to be a sturdy one. However England eased past the North Americans. Rhian Brewster proved to be the man to lead the side as he scored the tournament’s first hat-trick for England. This result helped them on to the next round where they faced one of the favourites Brazil in the Semi-Finals.
One of the heated clashes in the tournament took place as long time National rivals, England and Brazil faced off in the Semi-Finals. England took the lead through the Liverpool youngster Brewster only for the Selecao to equalize. After the end of 40 minute mark, Brewster once again pulled back the lead for England as the Three Lions were leading at the end of first half. The icing on the cake was completed when Brewster claimed his second hat-trick of the tournament and England’s third goal against Brazil. The victory sent them straight into the finals where they’d face their arch rivals Spain.
The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup Final witnessed one of the best games produced by an English side and arguably the best ever from the tournament since its inception. England faced Spain for the 2017 U-17 World Cup Trophy and most importantly to avenge their defeat against La Roja in the 2017 UEFA European Championship earlier this year. Spain looked like they were well settled in their stride to win the game and the title only for a Phil Foden inspired England team to snatch it from them.
Image credits: Bleacher Report
Spain took an early 2-0 lead thanks to a brace from La Masia product Sergio Gomez. A shock was waiting for him and his fellow Spaniards as the Three Lions scored five goals in return to stage a comeback. The deficit was halved by the tournament’s leading scorer Brewster just before the end of the first half and levelled through Gibbs White. The Manchester City starlet, Phil Foden became the hero of the night as his brace made it 4-2 on the night. In the dying minutes, Guehi ended the hopes of Spain when he made it 5-2 in favour of England as the Young Lions under Steve Cooper lifted their first ever FIFA U-17 World Cup.
This success has crowned a memorable year for the English younger sides. With the proper management of these youngsters, England might actually hit upon their actual ‘golden generation’ in four or five years’ time and can boast of incredible depth in each position the way the like of Germany, Spain and France do right now with their respective senior sides. It is indeed a memorable achievement by the young guns from England and one that can pay more dividends in the future, if the proper measures are taken.