Peacock lauds semi-final heroes
Friday, 28 May, 2010
Head Coach delighted with England's attitude during win over France.
UEFA European U17 Championship
Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz
By Glenn Lavery in Liechtenstein
John Peacock has paid tribute to his players after they beat France 2-1 to reach the Final of the UEFA European U17 Championship in Liechtenstein.
Connor Wickham scored both of England’s goals in the first half, rendering Paul Pogba’s 56th-minute header as a mere consolation, though France really pushed for the equaliser as the semi-final reached its latter stages.
The Young Lions were forced to ‘defend for their lives’ towards the end and after watching Andre Wisdom come within the width of Jack Butland’s upper body of conceding a last-minute own goal, Peacock believes they have earned the little bit of luck they enjoyed yesterday afternoon.
“I’m obviously very pleased that we managed to make the Final,” he said.
“I felt that we started very well [and] we were very pleased to go in at half-time 2-0 [ahead]. I said to the players [at half-time] that it was very important that for the first 20 minutes [of the second half] we don‘t concede a goal. But the French came out a lot stronger; the mental character was there for all to see. There were chances at both ends but they certainly put us under pressure in the last 15 minutes or so and we’re just delighted that we came out as victors in the end.
“I think we are a very good team and sometimes a good team deserves some luck. It was never going to be easy but I thought we played some very good football at times. I do think we started very well. There was some fatigue setting in in the second half. I don’t think the heat helped and the French were very much in the ascendency towards the end and we had to defend for our lives. I thought we showed magnificent character.”
The England Head Coach saluted Guy Ferrier’s team and the way they continued to press in the final 20 minutes, but he also reserved a word of praise for his two-goal hero.
“He has led the line very well,” said Peacock, of Wickham. “He’s been a bit frustrated that he hadn’t scored before now but we said to him ‘just keep doing the right things, keep hitting the target and it will come’. I have to say, his two finishes were first class, so I’m very pleased for him and that will do him the world of good, I’m sure.”
In a repeat of the 2007 Final, England will face Spain on Sunday after the Spanish beat ten-man Turkey 3-1 in the other last-four tie.
Peacock, then, is just 80 minutes away from securing England’s first ever European U17 title and if he is looking for omens, the last England men’s side to win a major international youth trophy was Robbie Fowler, Sol Campbell and Gary Neville et al., who won the World Youth Championship in 1993; the year 17 of Peacock’s current squad were born.
“We’ve never won the U17s Finals,” he confirmed. “It’s been an objective for this group to reach the Final. We have done that now and we’ll continue to do the work and we’ll prepare properly in the next two or three days and hope that we can finally take that U17 title that the French... and the Spanish have done before us. I just hope it keeps going.”