Practice makes perfect for Young Lions matchwinner

Friday 08 May 2015
Marcus Edwards celebrates with Jay Dasilva (Sportsfile)
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It is often said practice makes perfect and Marcus Edwards is adamant that is exactly what led to his coolly taken matchwinner for England Under-17s against Italy.

The Tottenham Hotspur youngster came off the bench at half time for the Young Lions to notch the only goal of the game in their opening European Championship match on Thursday evening.

Having seen Herbie Kane’s strike cannon back off the post before Stephy Mavididi’s rebounded effort deflect into his path, Edwards was perfectly placed to take a touch and convert into the net – and he says his instinctive positioning was all down to the work he has been doing at Spurs’ academy.

Italy 0 v 1 England

UEFA European U17 Championship
Group D
Thursday 7 May 2015
Lazur, Burgas, Bulgaria

“Every Monday at Tottenham we always do a finishing session. We practice different types of finishing – reaction, finishing through legs, all types from different positions," he revealed.

"So when Herbie got on the edge of the area, I knew he was going to shoot, so I was ready and made sure I stayed onside.

"It hit the post and then Stephy’s shot was deflected, so I had to readjust my body when I saw the ball coming.

“When the ball came to me, I had to put my full concentration into the touch, and then I just had an open goal and finished.

“It was just the best feeling in the world – but you don’t know what to do with yourself. I was too happy to celebrate.

“It’s great to just get the three points, but knowing you contributed to them is even better.

“It’s everything a kid dreams of. I’ve had my eye on getting to the Euros since the beginning of the season, I knew it was coming, so I’ve been working hard and been hoping that I would get into the squad and I’m just so happy to be here.”

Edwards was naturally disappointed not to have been included from the start against the Azzurrini, but he was determined to hide that from his colleagues – although he says he felt ready to make an impact if called upon.

“I’m quite tight with the boys that were in the starting line-up so I did not want to put any negativity around them," he told TheFA.com.

"They are my friends so even though I was disappointed not to start, I wanted to make sure they had a good game.

“I texted my Dad to tell him, and he just told me to make sure I took my chance when I got it and luckily I did that after coming on.

Marcus Edwards in action against Italy on Thursday

Marcus Edwards in action against Italy on Thursday (Sportsfile)

“The first half was quite tight, but there were little gaps and I felt confident that when I came on I could do something – so it was a good decision by John to put me on,” he continued with a grin on his face.

“I was kind of shocked to be coming on at half time, I thought it would be later on, but as soon as he told me I took my stuff off straight away and quickly got outside to warm up.

“I started feeling a few nerves, but I told myself I was ready. I managed to get on the ball straightaway and had a few runs at the defenders.

"It’s the way I’ve always played – my dad has always told me that defenders don’t like that and it’s my natural game.”

But the level-headed youngster is not allowing himself to get carried away after his winner.

England face Holland on Sunday in their second group match, a side who defeated them 7-0 only three months ago.

Confidence is high in the camp after their winning start, but Edwards says the whole squad is focussed on achieving victory in two days time.

“It’s been a good week and it’s great to start with a win. We’ve been singing on the coach together and are all really excited that we can win the tournament,” he added.

“But we can’t get too carried away and we are not. The Dutch beat us by a big margin a few months ago, so we have to get focused straightaway so that we can concentrate on putting in another good performance.”

Holland face England in Beroe, Bulgaria, at 6pm on Sunday evening. The match will be screened live by Eurosport.

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer in Pomorie, Bulgaria