The 2018 World Cup in Russia has been widely acclaimed as being one of the most exciting and enjoyable tournaments in recent memory.
Whilst France were ultimately crowned as world champions, the entire competition was filled with goals, drama and tension that took football supporters across the globe through the full range of emotions.
It was the complete spectacle and you were drawn into the tournament regardless of whether you were in the stadium, watching on TV or listening via the radio.
England exceeded everyone’s expectations as they reached the semi-finals and it is difficult to remember when the country last united so powerfully behind the national side.
Gareth Southgate will quite rightly receive much of the plaudits for his team’s performances, yet he is already likely to be thinking about how to mould a squad capable of going one better at Euro 2020.
Here, The Boot Room highlights three young players that will be a key part of England’s next generation.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
The 19-year-old started the season as nothing more than a promising prospect that sat on the periphery of the first-team picture at Liverpool, yet he ended the campaign as the first-choice right-back at Anfield and playing in the Champions League final.
His performances were so impressive that Gareth Southgate named him in his England squad that contested the World Cup this summer despite his relative inexperience.
There are few players that have undergone such a dramatic rise in their career trajectory in such a small period of time and it is safe to say that Trent Alexander-Arnold will continue to develop and improve over the forthcoming years.
He will undoubtedly become a central feature at both club and international level and he is an extremely exciting prospect.
Naturally athletic and technically efficient, he possesses all of the attributes required to become an elite modern full-back. However, it is his positivity that makes him stand out.
The 19-year-old has never looked daunted and his first instinct when he receives the ball is to find a forward pass, drive into the opposition’s half or whip a cross into the box.
He already has two senior England caps to his name and if he continues to maintain this rate of progress then he represents the long-term future for club and country.
Phil Foden – Manchester City
When England won the under-17s World Cup final in India last year it signaled a breakout moment for many of the young stars included within the squad.
Phil Foden was widely perceived to be the standout performer at the tournament and was subsequently awarded the FIFA under-17 World Cup Golden Ball in acknowledgment of his outstanding displays.
He received widespread attention from the media over the ensuing months and he has continued to make rapid progress since, making him one of the most highly anticipated prospects in English football.
The dynamic central midfielder joined Manchester City at the age of eight and he quickly rose through the academy ranks and into the first team picture at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola was so impressed by Foden’s development that he handed him a competitive debut in November 2017 as a substitute against Feyenoord in the Champions League and has made a scattering of appearances since.
In the process, Foden became the youngest English player to start a Champions League match (at 17 years and 192 days) and the youngest player ever to receive a Premier League winners medal.
Despite still only being 18 years of age, both Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and England boss Gareth Southgate are expecting big things from the central midfielder in the near future.
It will be intriguing to see if he can maintain his current rate of development and force his way into contention for a more prominent role for club and country.
Ryan Sessegnon – Fulham
Fulham youngster Ryan Sessengnon may only be 18 years of age but he has already made a significant impact that has resulted in him becoming one of the most talked about talents in English football.
He was the outstanding performer in the Championship last season where his 16 goals helped The Cottagers to secure promotion to the Premier League.
His contribution was recognised at the end of the campaign when he won an unprecedented five awards including Championship Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season in addition to becoming the first player from the second tier to be nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award.
Sessengnon is an exceptional talent that combines pace, power and strength with technical ability, creativity and intelligence.
He is capable of playing anywhere along the left side of the pitch, being equally comfortable when deployed as a full-back, winger or forward, with his versatility making him a unique prospect.
The 18-year-old has already made over 80 appearances at club level and it will be interesting to see whether he can maintain his current high level of performance when the Premier League season kicks off.
If he continues where he left off last season for Fulham then he will quickly find himself fast-tracked into the senior England squad.