England Under-21s flew out to Poland on Monday afternoon, aiming to become the latest set of Young Lions to taste glory.
Aidy Boothroyd’s squad left Birmingham airport for Poland and the Euro Finals, just a matter of hours before the U20s arrive back from South Korea having won the World Cup in Suwon on Sunday.
And the head coach, who was in charge of the U20s before taking over the U21s earlier this season, says his players can take inspiration from Paul Simpson’s side.
- UEFA U21 Championship finals
- Group A
- 4pm BST, Friday 16 June 2017
- Kielce Stadium, Poland
“They’ve gone to a different continent and won a World Cup, which we’ve never done before and that’s what we’re working hard to do from U15 level upwards, to give these players a pathway.
“A lot of those boys have come through the system and been with us for quite a few years so to see all the hard work that’s gone in behind the scenes, on the pitch and off it, we’re all ecstatic.
“It gives us all a massive boost and a great pride to be English and we’re all very much looking forward to the future.”
He continued: “We can’t wait to get started, as will the U19s who kick-off in a couple of weeks in their Euro championships.
“The U17s have already done really well, getting to their Euro final where they unfortunately lost on penalties to the Spanish and, of course, Neil Dewsnip’s group have won in Toulon.”
The U21s face reigning Euro champions Sweden, host nation Poland and Slovakia in their group games in Kielce, starting on Friday when they take on the Swedes.
And Boothroyd is expecting a tough task as the Young Lions take aim for a semi-final spot, after preparing for the tournament at a series of training camps at St. George’s Park in recent weeks.
“It’s been a long season but that’s what happens in football now, when you’re a good player you have to play almost all year round.
“That’s what the top players have to do and that’s what our guys want to emulate.
“When you’re in the best 12 teams in Europe they’re all going to be difficult to beat.
“It’ll be a tough tournament and it’s a difficult group for us but the top team in each group and the best runner-up will go through so we’ve got to work hard to make sure we top that group.”