England Under-19s boss Aidy Boothroyd believes his side will return home from the Euro Finals having learned some valuable lessons from their semi-final defeat against Italy.
The Young Lions missed out on a place in Sunday’s final after a 2-1 defeat in Mannheim, where a penalty and free-kick from Inter Milan left-back Federico Dimarco proved enough for the Azzurri.
And with many of Boothroyd’s squad having previously experienced Euro glory when they won the equivalent title as U17s two years ago, the head coach sees this setback as another important part of their football education.
England 1-2 Italy
UEFA European U19 Championship
Thursday 21 July 2016
Carl-Benz Stadium, Mannheim, Germany
"Obviously we're very disappointed, we think that's as well as we've played in the tournament so far," said Boothroyd, whose side qualified for next summer’s U20 World Cup as a result of their performance this season.
"When you work with development teams, it's very easy to focus on just results but some of the performances today I thought were excellent.
"But it's goals that win games and goals that change games and unfortunately we lost to a very organised and very strong Italian team.
"I hope and believe today will be a really good lesson for our players because of the hurt that losing a semi-final is and also because it's a situation that we can really learn a lot from.
"There are lots of things that we can take out of the tournament, lots of things we can learn from our opponents and lots of things we can learn about ourselves.
"To reach a semi-final in Germany with some of the teams that are in the competition is an achievement and we've qualified for a World Cup.
"But we've got to use this to see if we can do even better in next year's World Cup - that's our plan."
Having previously faced Paolo Vanoli’s side in the first qualifying round, when they drew 0-0 in Macedonia last October, Boothroyd knew this game would be just as close.
But Dimarco’s first-half penalty and a perfectly placed free-kick took his tally to four goals in the tournament and meant his side have reached the final without scoring a goal in open play.
"Games like this between two good teams are usually settled by errors, whether that's from players or officials, and usually set-pieces," admitted Boothroyd.
"Today, we've been undone by two set-pieces which is something that we're normally good at, so we're very disappointed.
"I think the goalkeeper was man-of-the-match for the Italians as he made some terrific saves and got lucky on a couple of occasions and we haven't been as clinical as what we normally are, so they will be the three main reasons.
"But I don't think I'll be the last coach who thinks his team has played really well against Italy and loses.
"They have a way of doing it and we knew that beforehand so congratulations to them and good luck in the final against France or Portugal."
The Young Lions squad will now return home knowing that they could all be involved in a World Cup in South Korea next summer, so they will go into the new campaign as U20s and aiming to impress with their respective club sides.
And that is where Boothroyd wants to see the players challenge, by developing into first-team players and adding domestic experience to that picked up with England over the last few years.
"We'd like to see all of our players getting regular first-team football but when they're at the really big clubs, there's some very good players to get past," he explained.
"Given time and support, I think they could make the first teams of their clubs and games like this, coming away with England, will add to them and make them better players to hopefully challenge for those places."
The FIFA U20 World Cup in South Korea will be held between 20 May and 11 June 2017.