England ended a 51-year wait on Sunday morning by winning the World Cup, though this time with their under-20 squad.
A squad led by former Carlisle manager Paul Simpson featured players from three different divisions with multiple representatives from Newcastle, Tottenham, Everton, Chelsea, Liverpool and Middlesbrough.
After beating Argentina and hosts South Korea in the group stage, alongside a surprising draw with Guinea, England faced Costa Rica in the first knock-out game with Everton teen Ademola Lookman twice on the scoresheet in a 2-1 win.
The next round saw a tough fixture against in-form Mexico, with new Liverpool signing Dominic Solanke’s goal early in the second half proving the difference. Solanke and Lookman then combined as they turned the tie around against Italy in the semi-final, with Riccardo Orsolini’s second minute striker cancelled out by three second half England goals.
The final brough the Three Lions up against a shock outfit in Venezuela, but it was Dominic Calvert-Lewin who made the difference this time with an impressive finish before Freddy Woodman saved a late penalty to see the tie out.
Dominic Solanke – Liverpool
The player of the tournament, following in the footsteps of Paul Pogba, Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi in the last three tournaments. With four goals scored in the competition, he was an unexpected hero for Paul Simpson’s team.
That should put him in good stead as he begins his career at Anfield after joining Liverpool from Chelsea whilst he was in Korea. After a frustrating season at club level, this tournament has more than vindicated his hard work on the training ground.
Strong and powerful, Nigerian born Solanke also possesses bags of pace. Whilst he didn’t have his shooting boots on in the final against Venezuela, he still proved a real threat with his determination and physical presence.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – Everton
Scorer of the winning goal in the final and only the third man to score for the Three Lions in a World Cup final, this Everton star impressed. Alongside his team-mate Ademola Lookman, the pacey duo terrified defences down the wings.
In his tournament winning goal, Calvert-Lewin showed all of his best features as he won the ball in the air before showing determination to tuck the ball into the back of the net at the second time of asking.
With 11 first team appearances under Ronald Koeman at Everton this season, the future is looking very bright for the youngster. He may have to go some way to beat his experience on Sunday morning in Suwon.
Lewis Cook – Bournemouth
Provided the assist from which Calvert-Lewin gave his side the lead and the captain of the side was crucial to their victory. It was only fitting that he would be the first Englishman to lift a World Cup trophy since Bobby Moore in 1966.
The holding midfielder was commanding with his breaking up of play and dictating of tempo and offered valuable protection for his back four. Such influential displays helped them to see out games and turn others around.
The ex-Leeds midfielder joined Bournemouth last summer but only broke into the team towards the end of the campaign. Given his success this summer, Eddie Howe may well feel confident enough in his ability to give him another shot next season.
Freddie Woodman – Newcastle United
The Newcastle United shot-stopper was the hero in the final as his penalty save from Adalberto Penaranda kept the score at 1-0 in the final ten minutes of the game. There was also an individual award for the 20-year-old as he picked up the Golden Glove.
With only three goals conceded in the seven appearances he made, it is clear to see why Woodman is tipped to follow in the footsteps of his father Andy who played for Brentford. He’s well placed too, given that his godfather is England boss Gareth Southgate.
Woodman decided to end his loan spell at Kilmarnock early to be in Korea and it was certainly a good decision. Having kept five clean sheets in 15 games in the SPL, he could push for a place in the Newcastle first team before too long.
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