England’s first Under-19s European Championship title owes much to Chelsea, according to goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Ramsdale is not one of the Cobham contingent, signed instead to Bournemouth, but he believes the Blues’ famed academy set-up, which has produced four consecutive FA Youth Cup triumphs, provided crucial knowhow in Georgia.
Chelsea trio Dujon Sterling, captain Jay Dasilva and Mason Mount all played the full 90 minutes of Saturday’s 2-1 win over Portugal, while club-mates Reece James and Jacob Maddox were on the bench and Trevoh Chalobah only missed out through injury.
Reflecting on the influence of the Blues boys, Ramsdale said: “Half of the team win trophies every season with Chelsea. They know what it is like to win, they know how to calm everyone down, they just know how to do things.
“The other half who haven’t won trophies have played first-team football, and if you don’t win the manager gets sacked so it’s all about winning games. We’ve got so much confidence as a group.”
Mount, who captained Chelsea to their latest FA Youth Cup in April, acknowledged the praise but shared it with those from Manchester City, who are also well represented in England’s age-group sides and provided boss Keith Downing with striker Lukas Nmecha, the Young Lions match-winner in the semi-final and final.
“Having that winning mentality throughout the boys, yeah it helps,” he said. “And Manchester City as well, they’re up there with us always getting to the finals as well. Having that in the group helps a lot.”
The challenge ahead for the country’s new continental conquerors is the same one faced by Paul Simpson’s Under-20 World Cup champions, those who lifted the Toulon Tournament and even some of the under-21 side who were beaten semi-finalists in their own Euros last month.
All have excelled against the cream of the crop at international age-group level but now the fight is on to secure first-team opportunities at their own clubs or win attractive short-term offers elsewhere.
“I’ve just won something with England, the best you can get. The next step is to try and win something with the older ages,” said Ramsdale.
“And it’s a chance for me, a stepping stone for next season. Hopefully I can catch the eye of a few teams in the lower leagues and get a loan or catch the eye of my own manager at Bournemouth.”
Mount added: “The next step is to play men’s football, to improve to the next level that’s we want to be.”
Skipper Dasilva summed up the feeling of adding another installment in an unprecedented run of achievement for the Football Associatiation’s representative teams.
“It’s a great feeling to win a tournament like this, it’s capped off a great summer for England youth teams and it’s a great feeling,” said the defender.
“We just took it game by game, building up momentum and showed we had the ability and belief to win the tournament.
“It’s definitely one of the proudest moments of my career so far. I’m proud of all the boys, they deserve this.
“It’s been a great summer for England youth teams and England as a whole nation, hopefully it’s something we can build on in future.”