England

The past
England’s history at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup is not especially glorious. Twice, in 2004 and 2006, they failed to qualify altogether, and the two editions in which they did participate ended with heavy defeats to North American opposition. In 2002, they went down 6-2 to hosts Canada after scraping through to the quarter-finals and, more recently, they crashed out at the same stage of Chile 2008, going down 3-0 to eventual champions USA.

The present
There is, however, the promise of a very different England at Germany 2010. After all, Mo Marley’s side arrive at the tournament as European champions, having made history during a hugely impressive campaign in Belarus that included two convincing victories over runners-up Sweden. Solid at the back and clinical in attack, Marley’s team impressed everyone en route to deservedly claiming the first major women’s title of England’s history. Toni Duggan, a veteran of Chile 2008, scored four goals during those European finals, including the opener in the final to mark her 18th birthday, and the Everton striker will, like goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer and midfielder Jordan Nobbs, be well worth watching at Germany 2010. 

The future

Having already made history by collecting major silverware, the Young Lionesses head to Germany bullish about their chances and confident of cementing the team’s reputation as England’s ‘golden generation’. As Marley says: “This is the result of 15 years work from grassroots level right up to the senior teams, and over the last four or five years that effort has started coming out on the pitch. And I think there's more to come.”

Facts and figures
Former stars
Fara Williams, Alex Scott, Anita Asante (2002), Danielle Buet (2008)

Key players
Toni Duggan (forward), Rebecca Spencer (goalkeeper), Jordan Nobbs (midfielder)

Qualifying statistics
England cruised through the UEFA Women’s U-19 Championship, scoring 12 unanswered goals to beat Iceland, Switzerland and Sweden (twice) and draw with Norway.

The numbers game
0 - the number of goals conceded by the miserly English defence during their entire continental campaign.