After playing a total of 21 games together in the 2006/7 season, John Peacock's England U-17 side have developed a spirit and friendship off the park that is reflected in the understanding they display on it.

However, the young Lions progression to Korea should not be merely attributed to their work ethic or close-knit bond. Of those 21 matches, they won 14, drawing four and losing just three - two of those to Spain, their eventual conquerors in the final of the UEFA U-17 Championship.

After their performances during the course of the past 12 months, together with their showing in Belgium, they must be regarded as one of the leading contenders to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007.

Qualifying
England were given a bye into the UEFA Elite Round, but still had to play six games before making sure of their place in Korea. In a mini-tournament in Bosnia, they recorded a 5-0 victory over the hosts, a 1-0 success over Azerbaijan, but still looked to be heading out of the competition before Daniel Welbeck's goal two minutes from time assured their place in the finals.

The draw for Belgium was kind to Peacock and his players, as England avoided France, Germany and Spain, three teams who they had failed to beat earlier in the season. Instead, they were pitted against Iceland, the Netherlands and the hosts. A 2-0 win over Iceland was fairly routine, but a 1-1 draw against Belgium left their qualifying hopes in the balance. However, a 4-2 victory over the Dutch handed England made sure of England's place in Korea - their first appearance at a FIFA U-17 World Cup.

The team's confidence was boosted further when Victor Moses's 11th minute goal earned them a 1-0 victory over France to set up a final date with Spain, an achievement that even drew praise from England's Head Coach Steve McClaren. He said: "The U-17s have been in fantastic form recently and reaching the final is a fantastic achievement. Their ability, determination and character shone through against France and they really deserved the win. John Peacock and the players deserve enormous credit."

The final against Spain proved to be one game too far for England, with Bojan Krkic's 48th-minute strike the difference between the two sides.

Coach
After a playing career with Scunthope United in the 1970s, John Peacock qualified as a coach in 1983 and went on to spend eight years at the Football Association, including a post as coach of England U-16s.

In 1998, Peacock took charge of Derby County's academy and in four years helped to produce nine first-team players and 14 youth internationals. Four years later, he was appointed as the national team's U-17 squad.

Peacock also became the FA's Head of Coaching on 1 March 2007, due to the fact that he is one of only a very small number of Englishmen to hold the FA Academy Directors Licence and UEFA Pro Licence.

Star Player
Despite being one of the few players not on the books of a Premiership club, Victor Moses turned heads at the UEFA U-17 Championship in Belgium by finishing as the tournament's joint top scorer with three strikes as England reached the final. The playmaker, who has recently been offered a three-year professional contract with Crystal Palace, celebrates his goals with a trademark back-flip celebration that looks sure to be on display in Korea.

Record

  • England have never qualified for a FIFA U-17 World Cup

Quote
"I'm absolutely delighted to reach the World Cup. The players deserve to be there. They work so hard for each other. They've given everything over the last few weeks and taken on board everything we've asked of them. We set our objectives are the start of the tournament to get to the World Cup - and we've done it." (England coach John Peacock)