Cooper's joy at U16s' 'creative and expressive' style

Tuesday 07 Apr 2015
U16s head coach Steve Cooper was left pleased with his squad's style of play
Steve Cooper insists it is the fashion in which his England Under-16s side won the Montaigu Tournament that has left him most impressed this week.

The Young Lions defeated host nation France 3-1 in Monday’s final in front of over 5,000 fans to lift the crown, but the style of play produced over the four games has had the biggest impact on the head coach.  

Speaking to, Cooper reflected: "It’s the way we have gone about it and dominated possession in every game. We’ve looked creative and expressive and we’ve really looked like an England side which had the identity and the DNA that we now want our teams to play with.

France 1-3 England

Montaigu Tournament
The Final
4.30pm, Monday 6 April 2015
Montaigu, France

"The players have played in the way that we wanted them to play, which isn’t just good for now but promising for the future as well.

"That’s been the most important thing – they have gained a really good understanding of the non-negotiables involved when it comes to our playing style."

With a full-house cheering on their opponents in the final, Cooper also believes his side have had an early taste of one of the main obstacles involved in international football.

"We had spoken about playing the host nation and how it wasn’t just the players," he explained. "With the crowd, that made it over 5,000 opposition to overcome and if they are to progress through the age groups then that is what it will be like in the future.

"You go away with England and play countries that will have full national stadiums and you have to be able to deal with that, so this is really good experience of that early for them in their young international careers."

England U16s players celebrate Montaigu Tournament glory

The Young Lions squad celebrate their victory in the Montaigu Tournament on Monday

Lifting the trophy was not just a reward for the Young Lions’ efforts over the past week, which has seen victories over Mexico and Turkey and a draw with Ivory Coast, but it has been a season-long project which Cooper believes has been just as successful.

"There’s been a lot of work done this year and things we have tried to establish within the group," said the former Liverpool academy coach.

"Coming to this tournament and playing top opposition from around the world, Mexico, France, Ivory Coast – it was going to be a great test and event for them whatever the results.

"We have continued to build on our work after each meet-up, and we were working towards this. We also had next year and the future in mind too. 

"We have spoken about the playing style throughout the season and what it means to play for England, so this was a chance to apply all of that against some really tough opposition.

"So it’s been good for the here and now, but it has also been great preparation for next season and Under-17 level and hopefully for the next few years after that."

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer