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

Serial Young Lions winner Lewis Cook targets Toulon triumph

Friday 25 May 2018
Lewis Cook made his debut for the senior team in March 2018

A European champion in 2014 and a World cup winner three years later; there aren’t many players who have won more with England than Lewis Cook.

The AFC Bournemouth midfielder has excelled in the Three Lions’ development teams and was rewarded with his senior team debut in March, against Italy.

Cook helped the U17s to Euro glory in Malta before captaining his country to the U20s World Cup in South Korea last year.

England v China
  • Toulon Tournament
  • 2pm BST, Saturday 25 May
  • Stade De Lattre, Aubagne
He is now in the south of France where he will lead Aidy Boothroyd’s Under-21s in the annual Toulon Tournament, a competition England have won two years on the spin.

And as England prepare to open their campaign against China on Saturday, the 21-year-old has designs on making it a hat-trick of titles.

He said: “The England teams I’ve been in over the past few years have done well.

“We’ve won other tournaments as a group so we want to try and be consistent and win this one.

“There is so much talent coming through with England now and there are loads of match-winners throughout the age groups and in this squad in particular.

“We’ll prepare well and give it our best shot.”

Lewis Cook lifted the U20s World Cup last year

After China, the Young Lions face Mexico next Tuesday and Qatar next Friday with the final taking place on Saturday 9 June.

Cook believes coming against different styles will be beneficial in his and his team-mates’ future careers.

He explained: “Those of us who were in the World Cup squad have played against a lot of different teams and different styles of play.

“There are a few players that haven’t so it will be good for them to experience it and see how they adapt.

“We all want to keep on learning and developing and playing teams from all across the globe will only help with that.”

Cook is on the standby list for Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad and with three recent Young Lions internationals - Jordan Pickford, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ruben Loftus-Cheek - all making it into the final 23, the Cherries schemer knows there is a clear route from the development teams to the senior side.

He said: “The pathway is definitely there and we’ve seen that younger players are now getting their opportunity which is good to see.

“It’s given all of us in the Under-21s an incentive to give it our all. Stepping up to the senior squad is a massive thing for every player.

“I just need to focus on the Under-21s for now and specifically this tournament. I’ll just focus on the next game and the game after that, and if the opportunity comes up I’ll give it my all.”

There has always been a lot of discussion around the ingredients required to make up a winning team.

But for double gold medallist Cook, the answer is fairly simple.

“The main thing is that it’s always been enjoyable,” he said.

“Everyone involved in the game wants to win stuff and when you’re enjoying it I guess it makes it a lot easier. Winning medals is the best thing you can do.”

All of England’s matches will be broadcast live on FreeSports as the Young Lions look to make it three Toulon titles in three years.

By Glenn Lavery