- England duo Dominic Solanke and Freddie Woodman reflect on individual awards
- Solanke celebrates being named U-20 World Cup's best player
- Italy's Riccardo Orsolini: "I didn't expect that I'd be top scorer"
England depart Korea Republic not only with a historic haul of FIFA U-20 World Cup medals, but two of their camp in Dominic Solanke and Freddie Woodman leave weighed down by individual titles too.
Before England’s Young Lions climbed the podium to celebrate a first ever U-20 triumph, their England No10 had the honour of raising the adidas Golden Ball, moments after their No1 had clinched the adidas Golden Glove.
“I was chuffed when they told me I was going to win [the Golden Ball]. On top of winning the main trophy, I’m really happy,” Solanke told FIFA.com. “It’s amazing to win such a big tournament, everyone was rooting for us back home and we knew if we did everything right we’d get the result, and we did. It still hasn’t really sunk in.”
After first registering from the spot against Argentina in England’s Group A opener, Solanke developed a habit of scoring when it mattered most. Rising to the occasion in the knockout rounds, he netted the only goal against Mexico in the quarter-finals before adding a brace in the semis against Italy to take his tally to four.
He had to battle in a pulsating final, though. His importance to the team typified by the fact they played with ten men as he received stitches above his right eye. “It’s always going to be a good game when it comes down to the last two teams left in the tournament. It was end to end, so it was a really thrilling game to play in,” he recalled.
In saving an Adalberto Penaranda penalty, Woodman’s part in the final script was clear. “I know it’s the old cliché but you dream about saving a penalty in a World Cup final, and for me to say it now is little bit crazy.”
But walking away with two bits of silverware was always his target. “At the beginning of the tournament I set myself the goal of trying to get the Golden Glove. I sat down with my dad and told him I wanted to get it and I wanted to win the World Cup, but it seemed so far away,” he explained.
However, opposite number Wuilker Farinez, sensational throughout the tournament, risked spoiling that double dream. “When he kept making those saves I was thinking, ‘Oh no, he’s going to win it, he’s going to nick my trophy’,” Woodman laughed. “To be seen as the best goalkeeper in the world [at this level] is quite surreal.”
Although Italy fell at the semi-final stage, Gli Azzurrini ultimately finished third by edging Uruguay on a penalty shootout earlier in the afternoon, with Riccardo Orsolini clinching the adidas Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer with five goals.
"I didn't expect that I'd be top scorer,” said Orsolini – a last-minute replacement in the squad. “[These things don’t] happen every day. Playing in a world championship and winning this kind of award means so much to me.
“I look forward to seeing how the future evolves, as there’s many possibilities. But, now, it’s vacation time! I’m heading for some sun and sea! [Laughs]"