Captain Jordan Spence says England can be proud of their achievements after reaching the final.
Spain 1-0 England
UEFA U17 Championship Finals
Sunday 13 May 2007
England captain Jordan Spence has his team-mates will return to home soil on Monday with their heads held high.
The young Lions were within touching distance of ending England’s 14 year trophy drought when they lined up against Spain in the Under-17 European Championships in Tournai on Sunday.
But it would end in heartache, Bojan Krkic’s 48th minute goal ensuring the young Lions will have to wait a bit longer to triumph at a major tournament.
“I’m obviously disappointed,” Spence told TheFA.com moments after the final whistle.
“I think it was a pretty even game, certainly in the first half there was not a lot in it. It boiled down to a few opportunities, they took theirs very well, credit to them, we did not take our half chances. The result is us coming out losers.”
Clear-cut chances were at a premium as the tournament reached an exciting crescendo with England’s best opening falling to Michael Woods who pushed his volley just wide.
At the other end, Spence and the immaculate Krystian Pearce kept the Spanish at bay, despite the eventual winners dominating possession. Unfortunately for the young Lions, on the one occasion they let Krkic off the leash, the Barcelona starlet made them pay.
“We defended really well against probably the most fearsome attacking line-ups in Europe,” said Spence. “We have to take credit out of that. Their [Spain's] defence coped with what I believe is the best European attack. We are not used to not scoring in games, so they have done well to stop us scoring.”
England’s players collapsed to the floor at the final whistle, having come so far to glory. But in beating Holland and France – the first result guaranteed qualification to August’s World Championships – England have made significant strides.
“So close to the final whistle, disappointment,” said Spence. “Reflecting on it, I'm very proud of the boys, very proud of staff that have backed us and supported us throughout these weeks and over the last couple of years leading up to this tournament.
“We have to take huge credit as a squad and as a team and look forward to bigger and better things.
“We have come on hugely. The Under-16s is purely development. This year is about results. I believe we have only lost three times. We have a really good record – it’s a shame we did not keep that up until the last game.”
The forthcoming World Championships, in Korea this summer, presents another chance for England to test themselves against top-class opposition.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s a wonderful opportunity. We need to pat ourselves on the back for getting there. That’s another major achievement that we set out for this week. Hopefully we can go one step further.”England:
1 Jason Steele (Middlesbrough), 2 Seth Nana Ofori-Twumasi (Chelsea), 3 Joseph Mattock (Leicester City), 5 Krystian Pearce (Birmingham City), 6 Jordan Spence (West Ham), 7 Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United), 8 Daniel Rose (Leeds) (15 Daniel Gosling, Plymouth Argyle, 56), 9 Rhys Murphy (Arsenal), 10 Victor Moses (17 Jonathan Franks, Middlesbrough, 75), 14 Michael Woods (Chelsea), 16 Nathan Porritt (Middlesbrough) (11 Tristain Plummer, Bristol City, 60). Subs not used:
12 Tom Taiwo (Chelsea), 13 Alex Smithies (Huddersfield), 18 Gavin Hoyte (Arsenal).Spain:
13 David De Egea, 2 Moises Jimenez, 3 Alberto Morgado, 4 David Rochela, 6 Ignacio Camacho, 7 Joaquin Forner, 9 Bojan Krkic, 10 Francisco Merida (5 Jose Fernandez, 80) 12 Lucas Porcar, 14 Yago Falque (11 Ismael Lopez, 79), 15 Sergio Rodriguez.Subs not used:
1 Yelco Ramos, 8 David Gonzalez, 16 Daniel Aquino, 18 Ander Vitoria.Referee:
Dejan Filipovic (Serbia)Assistant referees:
Magnus Sjoblom (Sweden) and Radoslaw Siejka (Poland)Fourth official:
Bulent Yildirim (Turkey)