Steve Cooper praises England Under-17s character

Friday 13 May 2016
England U17s

England Under-17s boss Steve Cooper praised his side’s character, after they bounced back from an opening day defeat to reach the quarter finals of the European Championship.

The Young Lions beat Denmark by 3-1 in Baku on Thursday afternoon to set up a last-eight clash with Spain on Sunday, thanks to goals from tournament top scorer Reiss Nelson, Mason Mount and George Hirst.

And they now go into the quarter final on the back of two successive victories, after losing their first game against Sweden last week.

Denmark 1-3 England

UEFA European U17 Championship
The Finals
Thursday 12 May 2016
Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan

"What we showed tonight was that we can play with the football, but we've also shown fantastic character since that defeat against Sweden," said Cooper.

"This team doesn't give up and there's a real belief when things don’t go our way. We were pleased with many aspects against Sweden and we quickly got over that because we believe in the way this team plays.

"Denmark had a very good defensive organisation in the first half and sometimes you have to remain patient and maintain that belief in your game plan.

"The last two games have shown what we can do and we've played well in the last two. 

"We can look forward now to Spain in the quarter finals and we’ve got to focus on our preparation for that - it’s going to be tough. But it’ll be a fantastic occasion and one we’re looking forward to."

One aspect in particular of his team’s performances has pleased Cooper, their ability to bide their time and show patience before hitting opponents at the right time.

England Under-17s boss Steve Cooper congratulates Jared Thompson after the win over Southampton

Cooper congratulates keeper Jared Thompson after Thursday's victory over Denmark

And Cooper highlighted Nelson’s opener against the Danes as the perfect example.

"I knew we'd have to find that right moment to attack and expose them and we did - it came down the right from Reiss [Nelson] and Dujon [Sterling] and we managed to get the breakthrough which helped us go on from there," he explained.

"That’s twice Dujon and Reece have combined for goals. As I say, it’s the way we want to play that with attack-minded players with a positive approach committing men forward in attack and with a little bit of quality as well – which is what I thought we did with all three of our goals tonight. 

"They were all very different types of goals, but all with a little bit of quality."

Nelson’s goal took his tally in the Finals to three, following on from the six goals the Arsenal forward scored throughout the  previous two qualifying rounds.

And Cooper has been delighted with the form of Nelson since his squad arrived in Azerbaijan almost two weeks ago.

Reiss Nelson celebrates with fellow goalscorer Ben Morris after netting in England

Reiss Nelson has scored three goals in three games at the Euros so far

"Long may it continue," said Cooper.  

"Of course his goals are down to good team play and creating good chances as a team on the pitch. 

"Reiss will be the first to say that as well because this squad isn’t about individuals it’s about everyone in the team. 

"But Reiss is the one that’s been putting them in and deserves credit for that."

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels