England Under-17s were crowned world champions on Saturday. Daniel Storey wrote lovely words about them, but what did the managers of each player say?
Antonio Conte, Chelsea (Marc Guéhi, Jonathan Panzo, George McEachran, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Conor Gallagher)
“I am very happy for our five players, and sometimes Odoi has travelled with us [the first team]. I am very happy for our academy because it means our academy is working very well. I want to give these possibilities – but you have to deserve these possibilities.
“I think football in England is growing in an incredible way because it is not the only result the young players [have had]. The under-19s won, the under-20s have won and the under-21s also played a really good European Championship. It means football in England is growing and improving a lot.
“I am sure that in the future it will be very difficult to beat, the England national team, the first team. I want to tell you this because I was a coach with the Italy national team and I think when you have this movement behind you, you can have a great possibility to have a strong team for the next World Cup and for the competitions for the national team.”
Pep Guardiola, Manchester City (Curtis Anderson, Joel Latibeaudiere and Phil Foden)
“[Foden]’s played in a World Cup. England will be world champions in that age. When that guy will grow and play in a World Cup in future, he has lived that situation before and knows what he has to do. There was an opportunity for Phil to stay here with us and play in the game against Wolves. But we believe that when this guy has a chance to play in a World Cup against Brazil, against Germany, Spain, Italy and whoever else, in India, it’s an amazing opportunity. It will be really good for his growth.
“Big congratulations to the manager, all the staff and the players because for English football they need that. It is the step they need. It happened in Spain. Spain was always last 16, quarter finals…they arrived in the semi finals and since then they have won every time. That’s why it is so important.”
Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham (Timothy Eyoma and Tashan Oakley-Boothe)
“From pre-season [Oakley-Boothe] was involved because he is a very talented player. He is a midfielder, box-to-box, good quality, good footballer, and I hope he will be important for us in the next few years. He’s a very nice kid, from a nice family, a lovely kid really. I don’t know how we got him from Highbury Grove school because it’s an Arsenal area. But I know his mum lives around there, so Tashan does too.”
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool (Rhian Brewster)
“I don’t like to make things like this too big but if you score twice a hat-trick it’s quite difficult to keep it a secret and we don’t want to do that! We had Rhian around already last season and then he had a bad injury. The funny thing is I didn’t see him for three months and when he came back he looked completely different. He was already kind of a man – I think I saw a bit of a beard or something – that will happen a lot in the next few months and years.
“It’s fantastic to have him around – he’s very similar to Ben Woodburn, not as a player but as a person. He never thinks about what team he’s playing in. He could still play 18s but he plays for the 23s when he’s here, that’s a very good thing. He’s scored four goals already and he’s ready to make the very difficult steps in this age group.
“I had a little chat with him after the last game. It was funny, I told him ‘save the number’ and he said ‘I will, for sure’. Maybe that’s the first step but I knew it before.”
Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace (Nya Kirby)
“I very much doubt that we can throw an under-17 into our situation at the moment. But I’m delighted for him, for England, I think it’s very good reward for the good work that’s been going on at St George’s Park for a number of years now – certainly all the time I was at England, five, six years.
“I think the clubs and academy systems have to take a lot of credit because now we are producing players who are as technically proficient, as athletic as the type of teams we’re meeting in these World Cup competitions. The age groups of under-17, under-20s, under-19s, under-21s have all done well. So it’s hats off. I’m delighted for Nya, I shall look forward to congratulating him personally when he returns from India and I shall of course take a close interest in him.”
Arsene Wenger, Arsenal (Emile Smith-Rowe)
“I’m so happy because I’m here for 20 years and for 20 years we didn’t do well with the youth. When you think that today they won the U17 World Cup, they won the U20. It shows as well that since they have restructured the academy and dedicated a lot of work to that they have the results. For once we can all have the opportunity to congratulate the FA. It doesn’t happen a lot.”
Slavisa Jokanovic, Fulham (Steven Sessegnon)
“It is a fantastic achievement, to play one final of this tournament is a great experience for him and we had an opportunity to watch the semi final where he participated in some of the goals that England scored against Brazil. I believe this experience is positive for him and I wish him and all the England squad good luck for the final. At the end, to be world champion in any level in any job is important and it will be an important day in front of him and all the U17 squad and I expect they will be successful and come back home with the trophy.
“It is a positive and positive steps in his football career and life of this young man, but it is better to give them chance to enjoy one final and all these people must know it is a huge job in front of them. Independent of if they will win the game or not nothing will be done and no one will give them any presents, I expect they will lift the trophy and after it will be time to start working even hard than what they are working at the moment.”