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'Semi-final first'

Jon Panzo happy to put birthday celebrations on hold for U17 World Cup semi-final

Tuesday 24 Oct 2017

Jon Panzo says any birthday celebrations will be put on hold until after England’s U17 World Cup semi-final with Brazil on Wednesday.

The Young Lions and Chelsea defender turns 17 on the day of the game in Kolkata, where the squad have relocated after the original venue in Guwahati was deemed unplayable due to heavy rain.

Jonathan Panzo
  • Position: Defender
  • Born: London, 25 October 2000
  • Club: Chelsea
  • Idols: Cristiano Ronaldo & Sergio Ramos
  • Twitter: @J_Panzoo

And along with his room-mate and Stamford Bridge colleague Callum Hudson-Odoi, the pair are hoping to help England into Saturday’s Final on what could be a special day on two fronts.

“I’m just focusing on the semi-finals first, rather than my birthday,” said Panzo.

“The tournament so far has been good, obviously we’ve won all of our games and we have the next one against Brazil.

“We’re proud to be in the semi-final and we’ve had to do some travelling, which is part of it, but there’s positive vibes in the camp and that’s always been the case.”

And Hudson-Odoi, who has known Panzo since they were both introduced as team-mates at Chelsea’s academy as U9s, is confident the team has more than enough ability to hopefully provide some extra birthday celebrations after the game.

“Watching them, they are a good team so we have to up our game even more,” he added.

“But with the team we’ve got, I think we’ve got a really good chance of beating them and progressing to the final.

“With the way we’re playing at the moment and with the confidence being so high, the game should be in our favour as well.

“We’ve got a good style of play and we’re proving how good this England team is, especially making history by getting this far.”

The FA ;

The two south Londoners - Panzo hails from Brockley and Hudson-Odoi from Colliers Wood - have also enjoyed their time in India.

Steve Cooper’s squad arrived for their pre-World Cup training camp in Mumbai at the start of the month and are now into their fifth week away from home.

And Panzo believes the experience will be a real benefit for all of the players as they look to move forward in both their club and international careers.

Callum Hudson-Odoi
  • Position: Forward
  • Born: London, 7 November 2000
  • Club: Chelsea
  • Idols: Eden Hazard & Neymar
  • Instagram: @Calteck10

“India’s been different and good, we’ve enjoyed it,” he revealed.

“I think for the future, it helps us, staying away for a long time with just football.

“In the future we hope to be away for this long again with other teams, so it can help us achieve when we do get there.”

Hudson-Odoi added: “It’s been great, obviously winning all of our games helps but the USA game was the best for me.

“It was against tough opposition and it was a big game, they’re one of the big countries and it was a World Cup quarter final.

“To beat them 4-1 was a terrific result.”

You can watch the Young Lions in the game live on Eurosport on Wednesday, with the game kicking-off at 12.30pm.

By Nicholas Veevers