The new boys of '93?
Sunday, 30 May, 2010
A 17-year wait for glory could come to an end with players born in 1993.
UEFA European U17 Championship
Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz
By Glenn Lavery in Liechtenstein
The England U17 team are just a few hours away from a UEFA European Championship Final where they will face perennial champions Spain in the Rheinpark Stadion in Liechtenstein.
The road to the Final began in Azerbaijan last October when they took on the host nation, Kazakhstan and Serbia in the First Qualifying Round. They registered eleven goals in three victories to secure a spot in the Elite Qualifying Round which was held in England at the end of March. John Peacock’s side claimed another three group victories, this time without conceding a single goal, to join seven other nations in these Finals.
Drawn in Group B alongside Czech Republic, Greece and Turkey, England knew a place in the top two would book them a semi-final berth, but, again, they came out of the group with a 100 per cent record which set up a last-four showdown with France. Connor Wickham was the semi-final hero as his first-half brace helped the Young Lions to a 2-1 win and a place in the European U17 Final for the first time in four years.
England have never won this competition or its U16 equivalent. In fact, the last time an England men’s team won a UEFA Championship was on home soil in 1993, the year 17 of this current crop were born.
In '93, of course, they were U18s rather than U17s, with UEFA having amended the age levels in 2001.
England began with a solid 2-0 win against France at Stoke on 18 July, Kevin Gallen and Robbie Fowler scoring the goals on that occasion. Both players were on target again and Julian Joachim added the other two as Holland were defeated 4-1 at Walsall two days later.
Ted Powell's side were now warming to the task, Fowler blasting a hat-trick as Spain were overwhelmed 5-1 at Bescot Stadium in their last Group One fixture. Mark Tinkler and Jamie Forrester grabbed the other goals as England qualified for the Final at Nottingham Forest's City Ground on 25 July.
A massive crowd of 23,381 packed in to see Darren Caskey notch the 70th-minute penalty that proved to be enough to sink Turkey.
On that day England lined up like this: Chris Day (Tottenham Hotspur), Gary Neville (Manchester United), Kevin Sharp (Leeds United), Darren Caskey (Tottenham Hotspur), Chris Casper (Manchester United), Sol Campbell (Tottenham Hotspur), Mark Tinkler (Leeds United), Julian Joachim (Leicester City), Paul Scholes (Manchester United), Robbie Fowler (Liverpool) and Kevin Gallen (QPR). Noel Whelan (Leeds United) came on for Gallen.
The vast majority of that side went on to become household names and graduated into the England senior team, a path some of this year’s intake may well follow. That, though, is a conversation for another day. Those were the boys of ’93 and now, 17 years on, the boys born in ’93 have their chance for glory.