Aidy pleased with Euro progress, but urges focus on Croatia

Sunday 17 Jul 2016
England Under-19 coach Aidy Boothroyd speaks to the media in Germany

Aidy Boothroyd says spirits are high after securing a last-four spot at the Euro Finals – but the England Under-19 coach is warning his charges not to drop their guard as they prepare to round off the group stage.

Victories over France and the Netherlands have secured the Young Lions a semi-final place and qualification for next year’s Under-20 World Cup with a game to spare.

England take on already-eliminated Croatia on Monday, with Boothroyd intent that his players do not lose focus at the start of what could be a memorable week.

England v Croatia

2016 UEFA European Under-19 Championship Finals (Group B)
11am (BST), Monday 18 July
Albstadion, Heidenheim, Germany
Live on Eurosport 2


“Obviously, we’re delighted because, although we’ve managed to do what we’ve done, there’s not a lot between the teams – they’re all of a very high standard, as you would imagine because it’s a European Finals,” Boothroyd said of setting up a last-four clash with Group A runners-up Italy.

“Friday’s game really was on a knife-edge – it was a decision as to whether to go and win the game or take the point. In the end we managed to get the win, which puts us in a nice place now – but it’s important that we focus on the next game now rather than thinking too far ahead to the semi-finals and, all being well, the final.

“It’s really important that we finish our group games well and go for that 100% record to keep the momentum going into the semi-finals.”

England Under-19s celebrate their dramatic win over the Netherlands at the 2016 UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals

England Under-19s celebrate their dramatic win over the Netherlands

Nevertheless, Boothroyd admitted he is enthused by the fact his side have achieved his pre-tournament aim of reaching the last four and qualifying for next summer’s World Cup in South Korea.

“I’ve got to have one eye on the future but a massive focus on the next game”

Aidy Boothroyd 
England U19s head coach

“I’m absolutely delighted because you can’t win a tournament unless you qualify for it,” the former Watford manager said of becoming the first nation to secure qualification.

“Getting to this tournament was a stretch, I have to say, because we played against Spain in Spain to win the qualifying group.

“Looking at the group we were in, we knew a first or second finish would give us qualification for the World Cup and they’re the experiences that we want to be in – not just as coaches for our own development, but most important is the players because they’re going into the closest thing they’ll get to a senior World Cup.

“I’ve got to have one eye on the future but a massive focus on the next game.

“It’s really exciting times for us as staff, an exciting time for the players and I think for football fans generally. The fact that we’ve managed to qualify for a World Cup is a really good thing for us, I think.”

By Jim Lucas