For the second time in 6 months I get to say England are preparing for a World Cup Final! OK the Under 17s is not the same as the main event but still it represents an unprecedented success for England at Under 17 level.
It will be England’s fifth youth level final of the year having already being crowned Under 20 World Champions, Under 19 European Champions, Toulon Tournament winners and the Under 17s previously played the European U17 Championship final.
It was that under 17 tournament that kicked off the summer of success but unfortunately after leading 1-0 they conceded a stoppage time equaliser and lost on penalties to Spain- the same opponent they will face tomorrow night for the World Title.
England’s European adventure brought 2 young Manchester City academy protégés to the fore: Wingers Jadon Sancho & Phil Foden. Foden went on to star on City’s preseason tour whilst Sancho turned down a lucrative contract to sign for Borussia Dortmund.
Sancho in particular shone through the group stages of the World Cup before being recalled to Germany to make his Dortmund debut. But the star to shine brightest in this tournament has been Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster who’s smashed 7 goals thus far including the hat trick in the semi final win over Brazil.
What been so refreshing about following these boys’ progress over the last month is they’ve consistently done the things we are all to used to seeing England senior sides fail to do. They started by dominating and destroying lesser sides, dispatching 11 goals in 3 group stage wins.
Next they won a penalty shoot out after being frustrated by a defensively stubborn opponent- Japan beaten 5-3 on spot kicks.
Throughout the tournament this side has played with a fearless attacking verve and even coped with the loss of star player Sancho as they showed in the 4-1 quarter final hammering of the USA.
And finally they beat a tier 1 nation in a big game; Brazil in the semi final. They showed strength in adversity as they rallied after Brazil threatened to over run them after the Samba boys had equalised.
Arguments over the pathway these boys will find to senior football are an ongoing concern but can wait for another day (probably next week!) For now we should enjoy the final and wish these boys good luck and hope they bring back another trophy.
Football fan, follower of England, Leeds and will watch any game possible (between raising twins!)