- England's young side gives hope for future generations
- Southgate talks about importance of showing resilience
- U-21 coach Boothroyd aims to turn Russia 2018 inspiration into preparation
By Laure James, England team reporter
In reaching the semi-finals with one of the youngest and least experienced teams at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, England left supporters confident of a bright future for the team at major tournaments.
While Gareth Southgate will now work on a masterplan to help the side achieve their potential, the England coach revealed to FIFA.com his young charges have drafted a new blueprint for youth teams to follow, using their Round of 16 triumph over Colombia as a prime example.
“Youth coaches have told me that game is the perfect model in terms of resilience, patience and team effort for their players to follow,” Southgate said. “For us, we have to use this [World Cup] as a starting point, because they will gain belief from what they’ve done and the expectation now rises and that’s good because we want to be a team which is always in the latter stages of competitions.
"We’ve spoken a lot about this with the youth teams and we’ve had a lot of success there, so now that the senior team has progressed as well that's a really positive thing for the players on our development pathway. The players who will come through will have had experience of winning, belief, and that means we can raise the bar as to what’s expected.”
Turning inspiration into preparation
England already have a next generation with a winning mentality. Aidy Boothroyd’s U-21s lifted the Toulon Tournament trophy just weeks before the coach joined the party in Russia to pick up a few tips, while the Young Lions are the current U-17 and U-20 World Cup champions. England also hosted this year’s U-17 EURO and enjoyed an impressive run to the semi-finals, before they were beaten on penalties by Netherlands.
Boothroyd now hopes to take what he learned at Russia 2018 and turn inspiration into preparation.
“I thought the game against Colombia was a brilliant one for our players,” Boothroyd told FIFA.com. “It was one our young players can learn from in terms of how to cope when you concede late on, how to stay composed and manage a shootout. The whole point of the development teams’ strategy is to prepare the teams for senior football.
“We have mirrored what the first team have done in terms of style of play and recently practised the system with the U-21s, so we can be even more aligned.”
While England was thrust into euphoria as the Three Lions broke records and Harry Kane hit for six to claim the adidas Golden Boot, the youth players were among those watching at home on the edge of their seats - and probably felt closer to the action than most.
Boothroyd said: “They can see that it’s possible for them to be heroes, that they could be part of senior history. Trent [Alexander-Arnold] was with us and moved up [to become part of the Russia 2018 squad], while Joe Gomez, Lewis Cook, Dominic Solanke, Tammy Abraham have been there before, so they’ll have little glimpses of what could be. Our senior boys have done so well, as have our junior boys, so it’s a really nice thing to be part of.
“It won’t all stop - we constantly look forward. It’s something that is a commitment for all of us. We’re on a crusade. We want to be recognised as the number one team and have a lot of work to do to get there.”