Will Huffer embraces his 'Tim Krul' moment

Tuesday 19 May 2015
England U17s hero Will Huffer with goalkeeping coach Simon Smith

Will Huffer only had one thought as he made his way over to the net for England's shoot-out win over Spain - "I have to save more than I did in training".

The Leeds United goalkeeper had to come off the bench for the Young Lions in the dying moments of their FIFA Under-17 World Cup play-off against Spain, replacing the injured Paul Woolston, and he made himself a hero by saving a penalty to earn his country a place at the showpiece in Chile in October.

"It was probably the most nervous I've ever been walking onto the pitch - you probably saw that by my first goal kick," he told TheFA.com afterwards.

Spain 0-0 England

(England win 5-3 on pens)
FIFA Under-17s World Cup
Play-off match
Tuesday 19 May 2015
Sliven, Bulgaria

"The delay actually settled me down a bit as I was just worried and hoping Paul was ok. We are really close so I didn't want him to be hurt, but thankfully he is fine."

Huffer, 16, and his team-mates have practised penalties after each training session in their European Championship campaign in Bulgaria, but he admits he did not save too many.

He added: "When it came to the penalties I was just thinking, 'I have to save more than I did in training!' Simon Smith [England’s goalkeeping coach] gave me some advice and it worked.

"It was pretty amazing when I saved it, but I can't repeat what came out of mouth when I did.

Sub keeper Will Huffer celebrates his penalty save

Huffer saved from Dani Almo

"I was diving and saw it coming towards me and I just thought 'here we go'. I just wanted to get it away from the goal."

Despite his heroics, however, his team-mates were not going to let him get too carried away.

"When Easah Suliman slotted home the winner I just went mental. Herbie Kane came over and reminded me that I still got chipped when the lad dinked it down the middle for one of them.

"I'm just happy to have helped the side qualify for the World Cup. Now I just hope I get picked for it."

It has been tough two weeks in Bulgaria for the youngster from York. In addition to the football, Huffer has also sat a number of his GCSE exams, and he will be celebrating this evening with another spot of revision.

"I have two exams tomorrow, geography and physics," he added. "So I'll have my head in the books later this evening revising for them."

Huffer and his team-mates celebrate after their shoot-out win

Huffer and his team-mates celebrate after their shoot-out win

His coach Smith was extremely delighted to see his young shot-stopper make an impact.

Smith said: "I was obviously gutted for Paul. I'm not saying he wanted penalties, but we had practised long and hard for it.

“But so had Will, and for him to come on and have a 'Tim Krul' moment like he spoke about earlier in the week; I'm so delighted for him.

"He has worked so hard with his education and goalkeeping over the trip, then for him to get on in a game as massive as this and save a penalty - I'm really happy for him and his family.

"It's a credit to him. He's been a great understudy to Paul all the way through, but I'm glad he has been able to step up to the mark and enjoy his moment of glory."

The draw for the World Cup will be made in Chile in August.

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer in Bulgaria