England Under-17s head coach Steve Cooper is thrilled about the style, substance and potential that puts the country on the brink of an “amazing” World Cup double.
While an air of negativity lingers around Gareth Southgate’s senior side, England’s development teams are celebrating the most trophy-laden year in history.
Having retained the Toulon crown, become Under-19 European champions for the first time and lifted their maiden Under-20 World Cup, England are on track to win their first Under-17 world title.
Swashbuckling England are through to their first Under-17 World Cup final, having impressively overcome Brazil to set up Saturday’s historic clash with Spain in Kolkata.
“It would be amazing (to become world champions),” Under-17s head coach Cooper told Press Association Sport.
“To think that we would be the holder of the two development World Cups would be an amazing achievement, but I also think you have to look a bit further than that.
“It’s also great recognition for what is going on with youth academies and the England teams, the work that is being done and it’s really showcasing the talent and the potential these boys have.
“We’ve played with real pride, real passion, but with real expertise and the ideas we’re implementing as well.
“I take great pride in that and just really hope that we can see this through.
“When we get back on the plane, I think the players and the staff will be better for the experience and allowing us to continue on that development journey.”
England can become just the second nation to win the Under-17 and Under-20 competitions in the same year, while Saturday’s clash offers revenge as well as silverware having lost May’s Under-17 European Championship final to Spain.
Rhian Brewster missed a penalty in the shootout, but that setback has not dented his confidence judging by the Liverpool teenager’s quarter-final and semi-final hat-tricks in India.
Such talent has helped England make light work of the fact Jadon Sancho – Golden Player at the Under-17 Euros – was disappointingly withdrawn by Borussia Dortmund after the group stage.
It also underlines the exciting strength in depth within England’s youth ranks.
“I really believe in not just this group of players but all of the England teams,” Cooper, a proud Welshman dedicated to English football’s development, said.
“I really think that we have talent throughout the system and talent with potential as well.
“They are performing well now, but I see longevity in the performances which really is the exciting bit.
“We are building for the future and we’re working towards the future. I see the boys currently in the system and a lot of them are here for the long road and that’s what we want.
“Listen, St George’s Park is only five years old, our DNA is a little bit less than that, so we’re very much still in the infancy of the programme. We’re still starting out.
“To think that we’ve had a good start with that and the results are one thing, but I think the identity of the teams and the performance of the teams is just as important.
“It bodes well for the future and I think people are now sitting up and taking notice of English players, English talent and I think because of that I can only see more opportunities for these players longer term.”
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