TheFA.com's Nicholas Veevers pens his final World Cup blog from Turkey
by Nicholas Veevers
The 5.45am wake-up call on Sunday morning came as a shock to everyone, with the England U20s group heading home after their World Cup exit in Turkey.
It was a disappointing few hours after the defeat against Egypt, with the players and staff arriving back at their hotel around 12.30am to pack together their things following the game.
And there was little time to dwell on what had happened at the Ataturk Stadium in Bursa, where England missed a series of chances to open the scoring and get the win they needed.
Had the Three Lions been more clinical, the match could have been out of sight by half-time. But that has unfortunately been the story of all three games in this World Cup.
England could have been more than two up in the opener against Iraq last weekend, which was probably the most unfortunate result of the lot given the way the group progressed after that.
And there were also missed opportunities to beat Chile on Wednesday, which has also contributed to the downfall.
Aside from that, the team performances have been good. I’ve now covered England in three U20 World Cups, following Egypt in 2009 and Colombia in 2011 and this squad has been the most competitive in terms of taking the game to their opponent and having chances to win.
It just wasn’t to be, but many of this squad will return home all the better for the experience and undoubtedly become better players as a result.
A number of the squad will have impressed whoever the new England Under-21 coach may be with their maturity and performances on the pitch.
And for others who perhaps haven’t tasted as much first team football with their clubs or the Three Lions, the experience of partaking in a World Cup has been a real eye-opener.
One point that has been made by FIFA since the competition started ten days ago is that the world governing body have been disappointed by the attendances for the games.
I must say that has been something I picked upon from the start, in what always appears to be a football-mad country from the outsider’s perspective.
In Egypt 2009, England played in front of 25,000 against Uruguay and Ghana in Ismailia. And in 2011, almost 45,000 watched the Three Lions draw with Argentina in Medellin, Colombia.
But in Turkey, crowds have barely scratched above a few thousand in the games so far, including those of the host nation. That’s been a real shame and hopefully it will pick up this week when the second round games commence on Tuesday.
Sadly though, it’s back to England for Taylor and his squad.
But one thing is for sure; if any of these players do go on to represent the senior team in a World Cup in the future, they’ll certainly have an idea and understanding of what to expect.
For now though, that’s it from me until the next time...