Monday, 12 June 2017
It May Not Erase 51 Years of Hurt, but England Have a New Golden Generation
Fifty-one years after Bobby Moore lifted the World Cup at Wembley, England can boast again that they are world champions.
England's youngsters, drenched in sweat from Suwon's stifling heat, made history on Sunday as Dominic Calvert-Lewin's goal and a penalty save from Freddie Woodman — Gareth Southgate's godson — ensured victory in the Under 20 World Cup final.
England captain Lewis Cook lifts the World Cup trophy above his head after the Young Lions beat Venezuela on Sunday
When Venezuela threw the kitchen sink at Woodman's goal in the final 10 minutes, England didn't buckle. Instead, they found a way to win.
Dominic Solanke, who must have felt he was suffocating in the intense South Korean humidity, somehow found the energy, twice, to chase the ball into the corner to run down the clock in injury time.
Captain Lewis Cook looked to be running on empty after covering every blade of grass, but found something extra to make an excellent tackle in the closing stages.
This generation of England players are sick of losing. And this crop look equipped to alter the wider perception of English football.
Ask yourself this question: would Marcus Rashford have gained more from playing in Sunday's final in Suwon or the 65 minutes he spent out of position against Scotland on Saturday?
Perhaps the Football Association should have stuck to their original plan to name the Manchester United teenager in the Under 21 squad for the European Championship later this month.
But they deserve enormous credit for their commitment to England's junior teams. Not just for the investment, but for their resolve to ensure the youngsters are not just an afterthought.
Often, though, the FA's hands are tied. The daily development of young players remains in the hands of their clubs. With that in mind, English football must not let them down.
Give them a chance. Let them breathe, let them play in the Premier League.