Men's Under 21s
Men's Under 21s

England U21s defender reflects on his first Young Lions goal and the side's character

Tuesday 20 Jun 2017
Alfie Mawson scored his first England goal in the win over Slovakia at the Euro Finals

Alfie Mawson emerged from the England Under-21s dressing room with his chest puffed out and his head held high.

The Young Lions defender, still on a high after scoring his first goal for England, had played a crucial role at both ends in helping his side to their first win at the Euro Finals.

Aidy Boothroyd’s side were trailing to a sloppy first-half goal from Slovakia’s Martin Chrien in Kielce, with their Euro ambitions hanging by a thread.

Slovakia 1-2 England
  • UEFA European U21 Championship Finals
  • Group A
  • Monday 19 June 2017
  • Kielce Stadium, Poland
  • Live on Sky Sports

But just over five minutes after the re-start, Mawson had levelled things up with a close-range goal before Nathan Redmond struck the winner 11 minutes later.

“It was my first goal for my country, so it was a real buzz and it’s a great feeling,” said the Swansea City man.

“It’s a proud moment for me and my family, my friends and my missus.

“But it’s three points and it’s what we needed. It was a tough game as Slovakia are a good side, but we showed enough and played well enough to get a result and it was a tough test of our character to go 1-0 down.

“We were frustrated at the way we conceded a goal from a set play, because we work hard on those in training and we nail those little details down.

“There was a sense of frustration because of the way they set up, but they sat back and were trying to protect it until half time.

“But fair play to the players and staff because we made a little change at half time, we turned it around and got the three points.

“We just had to break them down, but that’s what we did and it was only a matter of time before we got one and then we got the other.”

The half-time break was crucial for Boothroyd’s side, with a tactical switch seeing Jacob Murphy replace Mason Holgate before the Norwich City winger set up Mawson for his goal.

And the former Brentford and Barnsley youngster admits there was a lot to be said behind closed doors at the break.

“It was a mixture, but it was a little bit heated for a bit, some players were frustrated and I was frustrated at the way we’d conceded the goal, but it’s gone now,” he revealed.

“Aidy was calm, everyone else was calm and I was just saying that we needed to man-up, because there’s no point saying the right things in the changing room and then not doing it on the pitch.

Nathan Redmond celebrates his winner against Slovakia

“But credit to the players, we went out there and did what we had to do and at the end of the day, we’ve got what we needed.

“We could have easily crumbled there when we were 1-0 down with our back against the wall but we didn’t.”

England now sit on top of Group A ahead of the final round of fixtures on Thursday, when the Young Lions take on Poland.

But after facing a hostile atmosphere against Slovakia and also seeing a stadium full of Swedes for the first game, Mawson believes the squad are more than ready to face their hosts.

“Confidence is high so we can go back tonight to chill out before we can talk about the game and do a debrief before we turn to Poland and another massive game.

“I think the atmosphere will be twice as hostile as that but we have experience in the squad to deal with that and I’d like to think we’ve got the strength of character needed.”

England’s final group game with Poland kicks-off at 7.45pm on Thursday at the Kielce Stadium and will be shown live on Sky Sports.

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By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels in Kielce, Poland