Head Coach Brian Eastick reflected positively on his team's performances at the Euros.
UEFA European U19 Championship
The U Nisy Stadium, Liberec, Czech Republic
6pm (local time) Sunday 20 July 2008
Click here for the full tournament details
England U19 Head Coach Brian Eastick reflected positively on his side’s exit from the European Championship, given their good performances in the competition.
The Young Lions were denied a passage to the semi-final despite a convincing win over Greece on Sunday evening, with Italy’s victory over the Czech Republic sending the Azzurini through to the last four instead.
It was the opening game defeat to the Czech Republic which proved costly, as after finishing level on points with the hosts and with a better goal difference, they progressed courtesy of that 2-0 win last Monday.
All England could do on Sunday was win their game and after seeing a fluid and dominant performance from his team, Eastick was pleased with how it worked out on the pitch.
“I don’t think anyone could deny that we were by far the better team and I thought we played some really good football at times and were good value for the 3-0 win,” he said.
“It doesn’t send us to Prague though, which is disappointing and there is a very disappointed bunch of lads in there because we felt that we played very well against Italy and whilst we didn’t score, the feeling was that we were as good as, if not better, than Italy.
“We’ve come here and put another good performance in and converted the opportunities today, which we didn’t against Italy.
“That’s tournament football though, so good luck to Italy and the Czech Republic.”
Even against the Czech Republic, England could consider themselves unfortunate as two defensive lapses in close succession proved costly and then Thursday’s game with Italy proved difficult for the Lions with the opposition left hanging on for a draw in the end.
“We were very disappointed against the Czech Republic because we made two out of character and unforced errors, but in tournament play you have to keep clean sheets and we didn’t keep that clean sheet,” added Eastick.
“So we needed to beat Italy and win this game as well. We felt our performance against Italy in the first half was excellent and we maybe deserved a goal out of it, but it wasn’t to be.
“I’m proud of the players because they’ve come back from a 2-0 defeat in the first game marvellously and played some really good football and I think the people who have watched our last two games particularly will have seen some of that quality.
“I think given our performance today and against Italy and the manner of our football, we’re a bit unlucky not to be going through to the semi-finals.”
The win does mean that England will be heading to the U20 World Cup in Egypt next year though, when this group of players will still be eligible and a number of this squad will also be able to contest this tournament again next year, with qualifying stages due to start in October.
“It was a terrific opportunity for them to come and experience playing against the best teams and some of the best players in Europe so we were delighted to have got to the finals and let’s hope we can get to the finals again next year.
“A lot of the players will come back as U19 players next year, as the likes of Jason Steele, Danny Rose, Krystian Pearce, Joe Mattock and Victor Moses are all still young enough.
“Hopefully the experience they have gained as U17 players in the World Cup in Korea last year and the finals this year will hold them in good stead for next year.
“And then in 13 months time, we will have the World Cup. A lot can happen in that time.
“Importantly, they will go back to their clubs now as better players and that’s not to be underestimated.”
Eastick also reserved special praise for defender Ben Mee (left), who scored the opening goal against Greece and put in another assured performance following on from a similar show against Italy.
The Manchester City starlet, who lifted The FA Youth Cup as captain with the Blues last season, was only called into the squad as a late replacement for captain Ciaran Clark but slotted nicely into the team to impress all involved.
“I have to give special praise to Ben Mee,” he said.
“He came into the squad very late because the captain Ciaran Clark had to withdraw, but I thought Ben was terrific against Italy and then terrific again today.”