Toni Duggan offers advice to this year's England squad ahead of next week's Euro Finals
England v France
UEFA European Women’s U19 Championship Finals
7pm, Monday 19 August 2013
Stebonheath Park, Llanelli
by Glenn Lavery
The England Women’s U19s team are currently preparing for next week’s Euro Finals – and they could do worse than take on board advice from Toni Duggan
, who lifted the trophy in 2009.
Mo Marley’s side face group games against France, Denmark and host nation Wales with the top two teams making it through to the semi-finals.
Duggan has just returned from Sweden where she was a part of Hope Powell’s senior squad at Euro 2013 and the exciting Everton forward impressed when coming off the bench to equalise against Russia
But she first came to prominence in Belarus four years ago when she spearheaded England’s attack, scoring four goals on the way to glory, including one against Sweden in the Final on her 18th birthday.
Duggan recalled: “I know it’s a cliché but we went to Belarus just looking to take it one game at a time.
“We had spoken about the U19s getting to the Final in Iceland in 2007 and about the tournament in France a year later when we had a really good team. We had Ellen White
, Claire Rafferty
and Sophie Bradley
but we failed to get out of the group.
“So in 2009 we knew we had to kick on. I wouldn’t say it was the best team I’d ever played in on paper but it just worked. We were like sisters. Everyone was willing to sacrifice themselves for the team and it paid off.”
Four other members of that successful squad joined Duggan in Sweden last month; Jordan Nobbs
, who also scored in the Final four years ago, Lucy Bronze
, Gemma Bonner
and Jade Moore
, who netted three goals in Belarus.
And Duggan is delighted at the progress the quintet have made.
She added: “It’s always nice when you come up through the youth teams with people you know and you always want them to do well.
“When we were in the younger age groups the coaches told us not that many of us would make it into the seniors so I think it’s a great achievement that there were five of us in Sweden.
“It’s nice that we are all doing well and it just shows that all the hard work put in by Mo Marley and [U17 Head Coach] Lois Fidler has paid off.”
Duggan is keen to elaborate on the influence her former U19, and Everton, head coach has had on her career.
She admitted: “I owe Mo everything. She taught me everything I know about football.
“She was hard on me when I was younger, which I probably didn’t appreciate at the time, but looking back now I realise she had her reasons for doing it.
“People would say she showed favouritism towards me because she was my coach at Everton and the U19s but that actually made it worse. I think she was even tougher on me because of that, but it all paid off in the end.
“She’s a great coach and the U19s are lucky to have her for this tournament. I’d tell them to pick up as much information from her as they can.”
And with a gold medal in her trophy cabinet, as well 16 goals in 28 U19 games, there are few players better placed to offer advice to this year’s intake of Euro hopefuls.
Duggan said: “I’d tell them to take it all in and make the most of the opportunity because these players won’t be in the U19s forever and European Championship Finals don’t come around very often, especially not so close to home.
“It’s important they remember how important the whole squad is because it will show in the end and that’s what gets you results.
"If you feel that you’re not having a good game another player can step up or pick you up and encourage you and in a tournament environment that can make the difference.
She added: “Thinking about it now, sometimes I wish I was still in the U19s because of the experiences I had. A Euro Finals is a great experience, one the girls have got to try and enjoy and make the most of.”
England open their campaign against France on Monday 19 August at Richmond Park in Carmarthen.