The Annual Euro Under 19s are underway in Georgia. The Under 20s World Cup win has lead to increased interest in youth tournaments amongst England fans and given us all belief we can win trophies, so how much attention should we be paying to this?
Well I can see 2 reasons we should care. Firstly last years tournament was won by France and the star of the tournament was one Kylian M’Bappe. Meanwhile Spain have won this tournament 7 times since 2002 with the likes of David Silva, Juan Mata, Marco Asensio & Andres Iniesta providing star turns. Antoine Griezmann & Mesut Ozil have also made their mark here.
Of course it didn’t work out for everyone- Abu Diaby was the star of the 2005 tournament but as Arsenal fans will testify he never lived up to his early promise whilst Ukraine & Serbia are amongst the recent champions so senior success isn’t guaranteed but it does signpost the way.
Secondly England have never won this tournament- They have made 2 finals and current first choice players Harry Kane, Kyle Walker & Eric Dier did play this tournament but thus far no trophy in the Wembley cabinet. Keeping the momentum going is important for England.
With 2 trophies won plus a semi & final appearance England are now playing with the houses money but success will keep fans interested through the summer weeks otherwise dominated by the transfer window.
One way this tournament shouldn’t be viewed as significant is the 2018 World Cup. It’s unlikely any if this squad will play in the next Word Cup, notably Harry Kane won his first senior cap 3 years after playing in this competition, of course someone may breakthrough next season as Marcus Rashford did before the Euros but moving these players up to next seasons Under 20s and Under 21s is a more realistic pathway.
The standout prospect of this squad is left back Ryan Sessegnon. He recently signed a new contract with Fulham, a good long term move but one that guarantees he won’t play for the senior side next season on the grounds he won’t be playing in the Premiership. However this time next year he could have played 70 first team games.
Anyhow England won their opener 2-0 against Bulgaria (with Sessegnon netting the second), its Holland tomorrow & Germany next week, it’ll be fun to see how they get on.