Coady talks semi-final sense
Thursday, 27 May, 2010
England midfielder focused on the game, not the occasion.
UEFA European U17 Championship
Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz
By Glenn Lavery in Liechtenstein
Conor Coady hopes to lead England to the Final of the UEFA European U17 Championship in Liechtenstein and he has warned his team-mates against getting overawed by their last-four clash with France.
After sitting out the first Group B match through suspension, Coady captained his country in their final two group matches, against Greece and Turkey, and he hopes to have done enough in those games to warrant a starting berth in the semi-final. Should he don the captain’s armband for a third consecutive match he says he will do all he can to help haul England into Sunday’s Final.
“I was gutted to miss the first game [against Czech Republic], but it was good to get back out there for the other two games,” he reflected. “I just hope I’ve done well enough to get the nod for [the semi-final].
“If I am selected I think I’ll be nervous but I’ve just got to put the nerves to one side and show some leadership qualities, captain or not. Being captain of your country is incredible and it gives you that extra bit of responsibility. It would be unbelievable if I could help us get to that Final. The most important thing, though, is that we do our best to treat it like any other game and that’s what I’ll be telling the boys before kick-off.
“We need to play our own game and forget the occasion. We need to keep our heads on the game and if we go 1-0 down we need to stick to the game plan. We’ve come from behind before in this tournament and we’re confident we can do it again, if it comes to that. If we go a goal up, we can’t get too excited, we need to stay focused and just carry on playing.”
It is Coady’s level-headedness coupled with his dynamic performances from the centre of the park that persuaded John Peacock to entrust him with the U17s’ captaincy in February’s Algarve Tournament and the vocal Liverpool midfielder has thrived in his new role as team leader ever since, helping England top their Elite Qualifying Round group which got them to these Finals.
England went on to win the Algarve Tournament and they drew 1-1 with France in the opening match.
“It was a very hard game,” recalls Coady, “but I thought we should have won that day. France are a strong side. They’ve got some really good players, especially going forward and that hurt us at times. We were missing a few players back then but the semi-final should be a bit of a different game.”
Before the tournament began Peacock was forced to make two changes to his initial 18. Everton’s Jake Bidwell and Arsenal’s Chuks Aneke were replaced by Ben Gibson from Middlesbrough and Saido Berahino from West Brom. Ahead of the semi-final, the Head Coach has a fully fit squad to choose from and Coady hopes their European adventure doesn’t come to a premature end.
“I think we’ve got a very good team here,” he said. “We’re strong as a unit, we’ve got a great team spirit and we’ve got some really gifted individuals in the squad as well.
“Hopefully we can go all the way, but we know we’ve got a lot of work to do to get past France first. We’re excited to be in this semi-final, but we’re not getting carried away.”