England out but not down
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England captain Jordan Spence has taken plenty of positives from his country's debut appearance at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, claiming that it the experience has been an invaluable one.

The young Lions exited the competition following a 4-1 defeat at the hands of a superior German side in Goyang City and will now meet Nigeria in the semi-final.

"We are disappointed," said Spence. No-one likes to lose any game especially not in a quarter-final where the benefits are huge. It hurts a lot because everyone wanted to win the World Cup, we thought we could. But we have to hold our hands up and say we were beaten by the better team."

The England players sank to the turf at the final whistle while the dejection in their faces, Rhys Murphy's glazed eyes being one example, was all too evident as they climbed aboard the team bus afterwards.

"I don't recall seeing many tears," said Spence. "It's all a bit of a blur, just like it was after the Brazil game, but for different reasons. The lads are disappointed but that's football. You can beat Brazil or lose to Germany but you have to move on. You enjoy the good times but you have to put the bad times to one side. It's how you bounce back from them."

England's debut performance in this FIFA event, despite the defeat to Germany, has been a success.

The resounding highlight was the victory against Brazil, where Spence's last-gasp goal sealed a dramatic win, but their experience of tournament life will stand them in good stead as they continue to climb the international ladder.

"There are tons of positives," said Spence. "No other England U-17 team has been to a World Cup, let alone a quarter-final. We have put ourselves in the top eight in the world."

"In the last year, in terms of football education, we could not have had any better. We are all youth players and we are still learning. To play in matches like we have is invaluable.

"I'm so proud of the lads. We are a tight group; anyone can see that, we are all pulling in the same direction. It's like one big family. I'm chuffed to bits to say I have led this side. We have had some high points and some low points, but we will be better for them."

Spence has enjoyed his time in Korea from a personal point of view and he believes he has improved as a player.

"It gives you a belief to know you are doing well," he said. "You are standing up against the world's best players. We pitched ourselves against Brazil and Germany and we have stood up to the challenge."

Sunday's game with Germany was the group's last under the tenure of Head Coach John Peacock. As Peacock's skipper, Spence was delighted to wear the armband for the last 12 months where the European Championship Final and Korea 2007 were just two of his personal highlights.

"He's been a great manager," said Spence. "We are pleased to have been successful with him. I will thank him personally for letting me captain the side. It's been a privilege."