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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Title Marks the End of The Perfect English Summer

In 2017, the English youth teams have bagged two major titles, the FIFA U-17 World Cup and the FIFA U-20 World Cup by beating Venezuela in South Korea.

Abhimanyu Sen | News18 Sports

Updated:October 30, 2017, 11:44 AM IST
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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Title Marks the End of The Perfect English Summer
(Image: FIFA World Cup/Facebook)

Kolkata: When Enrique Caceres blew the final whistle in the summit clash of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the majestic cauldron that is the Salt Lake Stadium, history was scripted as England clinched their third World Cup crown ever after downing Spain 5-2 in what was an absolute humdinger of a contest.

Led by Joel Latibeaudiere who wore the captain’s armband as Angel Gomes sat on the substitute bench for a major part of the tournament, England had not only won their first U-17 World Cup, but also took another significant step in the direction of revamping the football culture in the national team set up.

Ahead of the final in Kolkata, Steve Cooper remarked with pride that his squad would rather deal with ‘the pressure of expectation of winning than of that of fear of a defeat or failure.’

Post-match he pointed out that England had beaten Spain with their own game. He was visibly proud of not only the margin of victory but how the win had been achieved:

"Not one long ball - pass pass pass, get into good areas."

In 2017, the English youth teams have bagged two major titles, the FIFA U-17 World Cup and the FIFA U-20 World Cup by beating Venezuela in South Korea.

These represent the first bits of success after Bobby Moore led England to their first World Cup title in 1966 at the Wembley. Co-incidentally, when the Cooper and his boys walked out into the playing field in Kolkata – they had the late captain looking on, albeit from a poster in the tunnel.

“Bobby Moore and his team and the success they managed is a story of inspiration,” according to Latibeaudiere.

“There is a proper plan and a proper system that is in place at St George’s Park. We want to commit long term so that eventually the triumphs are translated at the senior level,” pointed out Cooper.

This year, English football turned a corner with wins that took them back to the top of the charts, even if it is not at the senior level just yet. Along with the wins on the field that helped bring in some silverware to the trophy cabinet, there has also been a marked change in attitude –that can only pave the way for English football to grow in leaps and bounds.

Starting point

It is a process that began all the way back in the December of 2014 at St George’s Park where the ‘England DNA’ was announced. The programme was introduced by director of elite development Dan Ashworth, head of player and coach development Matt Crocker and the current England men’s team coach Gareth Southgate.

The process was simple and it was aimed at England’s youth teams from U-15s through to Men’s Under-21s and Women’s Under-23s. The ultimate goal was to create England teams who would win rather than have just hope.

In less than three years, the direct result of that programme is evident from the progress achieved in the performance of England’s under-age teams.

In recent years, the unpreventable disease of living with hope of doing well had become synonymous with the English national team, but now with three triumphs in a year at a global level, that is set to change.

The summer of 2017 has not solved any of English football’s biggest issues, but it has at least given direction towards the solutions.

This is the summer that has taught English football that creative spark is not something to be feared, but harnessed and allowed to flourish.

Hope must no longer be a burden or the starting point of a decline. For the success of Young England, nothing can be done without it.

The jigsaw puzzle has just started taking shape, and eventually it will be completed only when the senior team begins to consistently reach the latter stages at tournaments and win.

The win at the U-17 World Cup marks the end of a rather successful summer, and going into 2018, the onus is on the seniors to ensure that the three lions continue to roar.

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| Edited by: Arjit Dabas
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