Young Eng­land on top of the world

Cooper’s side rally from 2-0 down to stun Spain Two-goal Fo­den named player of the tour­na­ment

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Sap­tarshi Ray in Cal­cutta

Eng­land Un­der-17 head coach Steve Cooper be­lieves his team’s stun­ning World Cup fi­nal vic­tory over Spain proves the se­nior na­tional side could be set for a bril­liant fu­ture after an un­prece­dented year of suc­cess at ju­nior level.

Cooper’s side ral­lied from two goals be­hind as goals from Rhian Brew­ster, Mor­gan Gibbs-White, Phil Fo­den (2) and Marc Guehi sealed a sen­sa­tional 5-2 win in front of 67,000 fans.

The vic­tory comes four months after the Un­der-20 side won their World Cup in South Korea, while this sum­mer there was fur­ther suc­cess at Un­der-19 level, where Eng­land won the European Cham­pi­onship. The Un­der-21s lost at the semi-fi­nal stage of their European Cham­pi­onship.

And Cooper be­lieves the suc­cess of all Eng­land’s ju­nior teams shows the fu­ture is bright at se­nior level.

“I’m speech­less, the feel­ing is a lit­tle bit sur­real,” he said. “But we are wor­thy win­ners in my opinion, for the amount of goals we scored, the amount of goals con­ceded, the foot­ball we’ve played, the in­di­vid­ual tal­ent. To be 2-0 down in a World Cup fi­nal and come back to win 5-2 tells you ev­ery­thing about the char­ac­ter of Eng­land play­ers.

“It’s recog­ni­tion not just for where English foot­ball is but where it can go. To think we’re hold­ers of not just the Un­der-17 World Cup but also the Un­der-20s is pretty spe­cial.

“We’re build­ing for the fu­ture and that’s the way to do it.”

Fo­den was named player of the tour­na­ment and his man­ager at club level, Pep Guardiola, im­me­di­ately tipped the 17-year-old to make the step up for both club and coun­try, say­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence in In­dia would make a huge dif­fer­ence to his de­vel­op­ment.

“What po­si­tion did he play?” Guardiola asked when in­formed of Fo­den’s per­for­mance in the fi­nal. “When I find out, I will put him in this po­si­tion if he scores two goals in the fi­nal!

“He’s trained with us [the se­nior team] ev­ery sin­gle day. Of course, he is just 17. He is a young player. He is a player in our squad. Ev­ery day he is in the locker room with our guys.

“That is the best way to learn, from the ex­pe­ri­enced guys, about what it means to be at a high level.

“It is so im­por­tant for Manch­ester City, for him, for ev­ery­body, that he played at a high, high level in that com­pe­ti­tion. We can­not for­get. He played at a World Cup – Eng­land are world cham­pi­ons at that age. When that guy grows and plays in a World Cup in the fu­ture, he has lived that sit­u­a­tion be­fore and knows what he has to do.”

Con­grat­u­la­tions and good wishes flowed in im­me­di­ately after the game, led by Prince Wil­liam, who tweeted: “Con­grat­u­la­tions to @Eng­land on be­com­ing World Cham­pi­ons in an amaz­ing U17WorldCupFi­nal. This is the sec­ond World Cup our YoungLions have won this year – hugely ex­cit­ing mo­ment for the fu­ture of English foot- ball.” And Cooper con­firmed the cel­e­bra­tions had al­ready started.

“There’s prob­a­bly a dance-off go­ing on in the chang­ing rooms”, he laughed. “The way they’ve con­ducted them­selves, not just as play­ers but as am­bas­sadors for our coun­try, their clubs and fam­i­lies has made me very proud.”

“We knew they couldn’t keep up with us if we just kept play­ing our game”, said goal­keeper Curtis An­der­son, also of Manch­ester City. “Our fit­ness is im­por­tant”, he added, “and we’ve played in this city six times so we got used to the heat”. By the fi­nal whis­tle, Spain looked sapped, while Eng­land looked like they could play an­other match.

Once again Eng­land have won a World Cup – and this time in the most thrilling way pos­si­ble.

The Un­der-17s came from be­hind to beat Spain in a fi­nal they dom­i­nated in the east­ern In­dian city of Cal­cutta. This is the sec­ond Eng­land age-group team to win the game’s ul­ti­mate hon­our this year, fol­low­ing on from the Un­der-20s in the sum­mer.

After a shaky start, in which it seemed Spain would re­peat their vic­tory over Eng­land in the Un­der-17s European Cham­pi­onship ear­lier this year, a seem­ingly un­stop­pable Eng­land come­back saw them score five goals with­out re­sponse.

Liver­pool’s Rhian Brew­ster led the way with a goal just be­fore half-time after Spain had hit Eng­land with two clas­sic coun­ters to go 2-0 ahead, via Ser­gio Gomez.

Brew­ster ended the tour­na­ment as the Golden Boot win­ner with hat-tricks in the quar­ter and semi-fi­nals, and his strike in the fi­nal was his eighth goal in the com­pe­ti­tion.

It was a sul­try night in Cal­cutta’s VYBK Sta­dium, dur­ing which it was clear Eng­land had made many new friends over the two weeks of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Their swash­buck­ling per­for­mances en route to the show­piece fi­nal had seem­ingly made them the lo­cal sup­port­ers’ sec­ond favourite team. St Ge­orge flags adorned the faces of many fans. By the end a sec­tion with strong In­dian ac­cents was chant­ing Phil Fo­den’s name.

Eng­land went straight on the of­fen­sive, with Mor­gan Gibbs-White of Wolves find­ing him­self in front of goal in the first minute, man­ag­ing to get off a shot but see­ing it sail wide.

It was end-to-end stuff from the start, char­ac­ter­is­tic of this age group, rel­a­tively un­en­cum­bered as they are with rigid sys­tems. Eng­land looked to be play­ing a 4-3-3 that some­times seemed to morph into a more ef­fec­tive 3-1-3-3, al­low­ing Chelsea de­fend­ers Marc Guehi and Ge­orge McEachran to mar­shal the space be­tween mid­field and the back three.

With an at­ten­dance of 66,684 the week after Di­wali, the Hindu fes­ti­val of lights, the crowd were here for a cracker, and what they got was a match that pul­sated with scin­til­lat­ing play.

In the ninth minute a great cross to Ce­sar Ge­labert, of Real Madrid, saw the striker scuff his shot, but the alert Gomez turned the loose ball into Eng­land’s net.

After that Spain took the game to Eng­land, the mus­cu­lar and skil­ful Abel Ruiz prov­ing a men­ace. When Spain’s sec­ond came in the 28th minute, it was a three-man move in­volv­ing skip­per Ruiz, Ge­labert and Gomez, with the cap­tain go­ing on a mazy run be­fore re­leas­ing Ge­labert, who then un­selfishly dinked it to Gomez to score.

It seemed Eng­land were to be blighted by frus­tra­tion. Fo­den was in­stru­men­tal in many at­tacks but kept drag­ging his shots and crosses wide. Cal­lum Hud­son-Odoi, of Chelsea, kept mak­ing surg­ing runs only to lose the ball. How­ever, both play­ers were sim­ply out­stand­ing in the sec­ond half.

As Brew­ster made it 2-1 with a header and the teams jogged off at half-time it seemed pretty even, but in 10 de­ci­sive min­utes Eng­land not only wres­tled back con­trol of the match but did it so em­phat­i­cally and with such poise that Spain sim­ply could not re­cover.

The en­tire Eng­land at­tack, at times mov­ing even into a 4-2-4, it seemed, went for it – and were re­warded by an equaliser in the 56th minute when Gibbs-White, of Wolves, tapped in from a few yards.

After that Eng­land sud­denly looked re­freshed, rein­vig­o­rated and ready to take the game to Spain again.

In the 68th minute, Hud­son-Odoi rushed through Spain’s de­fence and squared to Fo­den for the mid­fielder to make it 3-2.

Eng­land’s cap­tain, Joel Lat­i­beaudiere, had a com­mand­ing game and was in­volved in Eng­land seal­ing the win. A foul on Hud­son-Odoi saw the winger take the free-kick him­self: it was nod­ded down by the skip­per and fin­ished off by de­fender Guehi.

When the fifth goal came in the 87th minute, again it was Hud­son-Odoi link­ing up with Fo­den, and again it re­sulted in a won­der­ful goal.

Spain, for all their threat and com­po­sure in the first half had sim­ply been hit by a storm of trick­ery, bravado and pa­tience, and some of that boiled over into petu­lance at the end of the game. But it was Eng­land’s night, and the crowd leapt to their feet to touch the win­ning team as they cel­e­brated with sec­tions of the fans on the fi­nal whis­tle.

Field of dreams: The Eng­land team pose after lift­ing the Un­der-17 World Cup thanks to a stun­ning fight­back that re­sulted in a 5-2 de­feat of Spain in front of a 67,000 crowd in Cal­cutta

World at his feet: Phil Fo­den, the Manch­ester City ju­nior, races off to cel­e­brate scor­ing for Eng­land against Spain in Cal­cutta yes­ter­day

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