The message for England U19s forward of their Euro 2022 closing with Israel final week was the identical because it had been all through the event – aside from one small however important piece of recommendation.
When you lose, preserve your runners-up medal on. And should you win, preserve your shirts the fitting method spherical. You play for the badge on the entrance – not the title on the again.
England’s path to victory in Slovakia required a skilful, well-organised staff unit. However the tradition round Ian Foster’s title-winning facet was one constructed on respect and humility simply as a lot as technical means.
This wasn’t the supervisor’s first worldwide winner’s medal. Foster was a part of Steve Cooper’s backroom staff when England U17s thrashed Spain within the World Cup closing 5 years in the past. Then, they had been roundly criticised for turning their shirts back-to-front amid the celebrations.
Although the response to that incident was clearly overblown again at dwelling 5 years in the past, there was no repeat efficiency this time round.
“This squad are all splendidly gifted gamers, that is virtually a given due to the superb work the academies do,” the victorious supervisor informed Sky Sports activities. “They’ve such a togetherness and a staff spirit, an actual character within the group.
“However the strap line for the boys going into the event was to be humble gamers, who present humility – and so they’ve undoubtedly carried out that. It is necessary for us to indicate that not solely at St George’s Park. It is also once we’re strolling by means of airports, by means of resorts; we now have sure non-negotiables, about leaving dressing rooms and lodge rooms how we discovered them and simply being good individuals.
“However to be trustworthy, it wasn’t one thing I regularly needed to say to them, as a result of they’re good individuals. Lee [Carsley], Gareth [Southgate] aren’t simply in search of good footballers, these are individuals who must deal with disappointment nicely, they must stay with the staff of workers and gamers for 3, 4, 5 weeks at a time and carry out. It is not solely on the pitch we’re , however off it as nicely.”
Foster’s preparation for the finals started lengthy earlier than England had even received by means of the qualifying phases. At a global camp in September, the group got a ‘purpose tree’ with a collective intention of reaching and, finally, profitable the event, in addition to areas for every participant to enhance on alongside the best way.
The actual take a look at of that improvement must come on the pitch, and Foster and the FA pencilled in quite a lot of ‘tier-one’ friendlies in opposition to the likes of Germany, Italy and France alongside the qualifying rounds final Autumn. Having taken over in September 2020, it was the primary alternative Foster may actually choose whether or not his gamers can be prepared for Slovakia. He quickly felt they’d an opportunity.
“These video games informed us the place we had been at by way of the extent,” he mentioned. “We had a extremely troublesome qualifying spherical in November, with Sweden and Switzerland in that group. Then we confronted Portugal in March, so clearly the video games get tougher – however the gamers received higher. No matter we requested of them, they delivered.
“That was all the way down to not solely the flexibility of the group however the togetherness they’d which they confirmed all through the event, whether or not they had been a starter or a finisher. That gave us a chance to go late into the event.
England’s run to the ultimate
- Group stage vs Austria – gained 2-0
- Group stage vs Serbia – gained 4-0
- Group stage vs Israel – gained 1-0
- Semi-final vs Italy – gained 2-1
- Closing vs Israel – gained 3-1 (AET)
“You are at all times within the lap of the gods by way of health, by way of who you are going to get and who’s obtainable, which gamers may play up within the pathway. [U21 manager] Lee Carsley has been sensible by way of having a extremely robust Might with qualifying for their very own European Championships, however was very reluctant to dip into our age group which was nice by way of giving us a chance to achieve success.”
The standard of that U17 squad Foster labored with in 2017 is probably not repeated for a while. The likes of Jadon Sancho, Marc Guehi, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Phil Foden do not typically come alongside in a single age group, though the success they achieved in an England shirt is now far much less distinctive.
England’s U19s had already gained the European Championship – for the primary time – earlier that yr and went on so as to add an U20 World Cup to their title, earlier than lifting the U19 trophy once more final week. The senior squad is but to carry silverware however has reached as many main semi-finals within the final 4 years as within the earlier 28 mixed.
The standard of homegrown gamers in Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad, in addition to within the Premier League has steered for a while that issues are not off course. On the coaching pitch, that change is one thing Foster and his colleagues have observed throughout the England age teams.
“The work being carried out within the academies, not simply over the past 5 years however the decade, we’re seeing the advantages of that now,” he mentioned. “You do not simply get splendidly technically gifted gamers, however gamers with actual physicality and athleticism.
“At occasions up to now, we have had bodily sturdy gamers who lacked technical means. The tactical understanding is not at all times there, it will depend on the extent of video games they’ve performed in already, however the strategy of our younger gamers proper now could be excellent – nearly as good as you will see.”
So what now for England’s trophy winners? Of the U19 European champions from 2017, solely 5 have gone on to play senior worldwide soccer – though Lukas Nmecha’s caps have come for Germany and people of Ben Brereton, as he was then identified, have been in a Chile shirt.
Southgate’s Three Lions will head to Qatar this winter with the expectation of reaching the ultimate of the World Cup on the very least. With such a excessive bar set, how can the subsequent technology break by means of?
Foster mentioned: “Hopefully we have given them a platform. The groups are conscious of their qualities, in fact, however they may have seen one thing on this event which has pleasantly shocked them. It’d give them a chance to go on mortgage, to maybe an even bigger membership than they may have anticipated.
“We have to give the gamers these experiences so after they play for the seniors, they have been there earlier than, and Gareth and the workers know the gamers have been deep into the tournaments beforehand, which has helped.
“The 2000-born gamers have been to the ultimate of a European Championships, the ultimate of a World Cup, you see it with Mason [Mount] and Aaron Ramsdale.
“It is simply given them that publicity and platform, and so they’ve proven they will carry out on the highest stage of worldwide soccer of their age.”
Who had been England’s star males in Slovakia?
Matthew Cox (Brentford): Performed in all-but one in all England’s video games and named goalkeeper of the event. Joined Brentford B from Wimbledon final summer season, and was unbeaten in open play en path to the ultimate, pulling off a string of saves to assist the Younger Lions to victory within the semi-final in opposition to Italy.
Callum Doyle (Man Metropolis): Scorer of England’s equaliser in opposition to Israel within the closing, one other who performed an element within the Younger Lions’ run of conceding solely two targets in 5 video games throughout the event. Featured 44 occasions for League One promoted facet Sunderland final season in his first season in senior soccer.
Carney Chukwuemeka (Aston Villa): Maybe the best-known of the U19 squad, Chukwuemeka made 11 Premier League appearances final season and supervisor Steven Gerrard has spoken of his need to maintain him at Villa Park with lower than 12 months left on his contract. Scored 3 times in Slovakia and will quickly be stepping up the age teams.
Harvey Vale (Chelsea): Named Chelsea’s academy participant of the yr solely weeks earlier than captaining England to U19 glory. A frontrunner on and off the pitch and made the Younger Lions’ second purpose in opposition to Israel within the closing with a usually advantageous supply.
Dane Scarlett (Tottenham): Not in contrast to one other Tottenham No 9, does not have all of the tips and is not probably the most bodily participant on the planet however is aware of the place the again of the web is. Scored twice in Slovakia and now has 12 targets in 14 U19 internationals for England.