Ledson remains focused ahead of European U17 Final

Wednesday 21 May 2014
England U17 captain Ryan Ledson
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Captain Ryan Ledson says he and his England U17 team-mates are preparing for the European Championship Final just as they would any other game.

The Young Lions defeated Portugal 2-0 on Sunday to secure a spot in Wednesday night’s showdown against Holland, and the Everton midfielder says his men are focused on “getting the job done”.

Speaking at the team hotel in Mellieha Bay in Malta, Ledson told TheFA.com: “We are just trying to keep our focus and trying not to let the big occasion get to us.

England v Holland

UEFA European U17 Championship
The Final
6pm, Wednesday 21 May 2014
Ta’Qali National Stadium, Malta
Live on Eurosport

“We have been preparing just like we would for any other game. It’s the Final, but we are just trying to keep focused and play how we usually play.

He added: “All the good luck messages are coming through now and it’s a great to have all the support from back home. It gives us huge confidence knowing that everyone is watching and cheering us on.”

Ledson, known as ‘Lego’ to his team-mates, has been at the heart of England’s progression to the Final throughout qualifying and the finals. And although he always believed that they could do well, he highlighted that progression from the Elite Round qualifiers in March as the moment he felt they could go all the way. 

“I think this is the eleventh game now for us in this competition and it seems a long time ago that we started qualifying in Armenia,” said Ledson. “There have been so many highlights for me, but I think getting through the Elite Round was the main one. 

“It was a really hard group and I think getting through the opener out there against the hosts Czech Republic was a massive turning point for us as a squad.”

He continued: “After the Italy game was when it really sank in. They equalised to draw it level at 1-1. We only needed a draw to get through, but if they won then they would have finished top and knocked us out. They were piling on the pressure, but we hit them on the break with Izzy Brown and he slid Dom Solanke in to score the winner.

“That was when, during the celebrations, I thought ‘we stand a chance here’. And when you get here to the European finals, and we saw the eight teams here, I always believed we stood a good chance. 

“Then as it progresses, you see Germany go out in the group stage - that gives you another boost.

“And then against Portugal in the semi-final, when we scored that second goal through Patrick Roberts, you realise you are through to the Final.

“Anything can happen now, it is 80 minutes, and we have to give it everything we have got.” 

Messages of support from the Senior and Under-21 squads have been flooding through to the camp in Malta – but Ledson says his side have no ambitions to return home as “proud losers”.

“Definitely not! This is what we have been working for all season and for us to lose now would be a massive disappointment. 

“As captain, I’m proud of all the boys and what we have achieved as a group so far – but we are determined to find that extra gear and go one step further and become European champions.”

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer in Malta