“Exciting times for English football with this group” were the words of Player 4 Player founder and mentor Michael Johnson after victory over Turkey sealed England’s place at the UEFA U21s Euro Finals.
The team won 2-1 at Molinuex which secures 1st place in their group with two games to spare. They were always expected to qualify but the style they have done it has been hugely impressive. They remain unbeaten with only one draw and their attacking football has produced 24 goals across the 8 games.
One of those most responsible for this feat is striker Eddie Nketiah who got the winner yesterday to break Alan Shearer’s goal record for the England U21s. The Arsenal forward described it as “a dream come true and a proud moment for me and my family.”
The squad is brimming with talent with players such as Callum Hudson-Odoi, Max Aarons and Jude Bellingham, the youngest player to ever represent the U21s. They will now have the chance to demonstrate their ability at a major final in Hungary and Slovenia next year.
The coaching team, which former international defender Johnson is part of, should be commended not only for their performances but also for developing talent for the seniors.
Gareth Southgate has called up several players in most recent weeks seeing Reece James and Bukayo Saka make their senior debuts.
For Johnson, who recently coached Guyana to their first ever CONCACAF Gold Cup, it has been another great achievement in his career. He described his feelings
“it's a Great honour to represent your country at any level. It is beyond your dreams. To not only represent my country, but to qualify for a major tournament and looking forward to going to the Euros next year, is something that myself, the staff and, of course, the players should take immense pride in.”
By the time the finals get underway it will be 37 years since England last won the competition, but Johnson is confident in the potential of the current squad. “I don't think anyone wants to put pressure on this team, but, if this team plays to its full abilities it is capable of doing anything. It really is a talented group of players and let’s see how we perform in the finals.”
Aidy Boothroyd’s side still have the remaining qualifying games against Andorra and Albania to play before the finals take place in 2021 across two stages. First will be a group stage at the end of March before the winners and runners up in each group go to play a straight knockout final eight in June.
We will continue to follow the team closely on their journey. We wish Johnno and the group every success in the future, and we can’t wait to see our WhatsApp group light up again in March and June next year.
Well done Johnno, we are super proud of you.