A steady improvement has seen England’s U-17 side grow in stature over recent years. The team started to make real strides in 2007, where they reached the final of the UEFA U-17 Championship, narrowly losing 1-0 to Spain. However, this saw them qualify for their first-ever FIFA U-17 World Cup, giving coach John Peacock a chance to show off his young stars on the world stage. A quarter-final exit to Germany was followed by two years of below-par performances.
The team missed out on the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009, but in 2010 they hit top form to huge effect. Peacock’s men swept aside all before them in the U-17 European Championships to get their revenge over Spain, beating them 2-1 in the final.
England qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 by making it to the semi-finals of this year’s U-17 European Championship. However, their tournament got off to something of a rocky start, as they had to settle for a 2-2 draw with France. They then fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of group winners Denmark, but a 3-0 win over Serbia in their final game lifted them off the bottom of the section and into the semi-finals where they lost to the Netherlands by a single goal.
The English will be looking to the striking talents of Everton striker Hallam Hope to lead the line in Mexico. His record of ten goals in 12 games since making his debut for the U-17s last August proves his talents for terrorising defences. They will also need the experience of captain Nathaniel Chalobah, who 12 months ago was lifting the U-17 European Championships after England’s triumph over Spain. In the 28 times he has pulled on the shirt, England have lost just three times.