Jack to the future
Thursday, 18 October, 2012
England keeper says U21s players performed well under pressure in Serbia
Jack Butland says he and his team mates showed their maturity in Serbia on Tuesday night to reach Euro 2013.
England Under-21s qualified for the Finals thanks to a 2-0 aggregate play-off win over the Serbs. Connor Wickham’s stoppage-time goal in Krusevac sealing the victory on a nervy night.
The Birmingham City keeper, who was part of Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad and Team GB at London 2012, understands the importance of international experience, and says he’s pleased that England have taken the chance to be there next summer.
Butland has already won a European Championship at U17 level and believes going to major tournaments with England will only help players' development.
“It’s our future, we want to be ready for the senior side and get as many international games under our belts as possible,” said Butland.
“If we hadn’t have got the result there would have been a big opportunity missed to play international football next summer in Israel.
“We’re very relieved and happy that we’re going to get the chance to go there and further our international experience.”
Butland also revealed that throughout the match in Serbia he had to deal with objects thrown from the crowd. When Wickham netted things became sour, marring what would have been a great night for England.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming here, you could see that from the warm-up,” Butland told FATV after the game. “The hostility towards us, the crowd was very loud and very supportive of their team so we knew they were going to get behind them.
“You get coins thrown at you sometimes in games and there was a lot more than that. If you react to it and get involved you give the fans more reason to throw more stuff.
“So I tried not to make a big deal of it and clear it, but sometimes you have to expect that when you go to difficult places. I probably won’t experience that type of atmosphere for a while.
“There was a lot of abuse and pressure on the side from the start and it was a difficult situation for us to play in.
“We showed tonight we’re more than just football players. We’re very level headed and very good people as well and I think we dealt with the situations we were put under very well.”
Leading 1-0 from the first leg in Norwich last Friday, England just needed a draw to qualify for Israel.
And it took solid performances from Butland and the Young Lions back four to restrict Serbia to chances from distance and stop them from scoring to get them back in the tie.
“We defended as a team, and we knew on that pitch it would be difficult to play the way we wanted to play, so a few things played into their favour. We dug in and kept a clean sheet.
“Daws [Craig Dawson] has been incredible throughout the campaign with the goals he’s scored and the shift he’s put in defensively.
“And the same with Caulks [Steven Caulker], Danny Rose and Smudge [Adam Smith], they’ve been incredible for us. Having that solid base has given us a chance to play.
“Everyone has worked hard and we’ve deserved the result today.”
And it now means that England will line up alongside their Israeli hosts as well as holders Spain, Russia, Norway, Germany, Holland and Italy.
Now Coach Stuart Pearce has eight months to prepare a team for their fourth consecutive appearance at the Championship Finals.
He added: “You’ve seen throughout the campaign that we’ve used a lot of players as we have a lot of strength in depth.
“I’m sure there’s going to be rotation and a lot of players doing well for their clubs who’ll get a taste before then and I’m sure we’ll have a strong team to go to Israel and do a very good job.”
You can watch the interviews with Jack Butland, Connor Wickham and Jordan Henderson in the FATV player below.