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Sunday, 11 June 2017


• Manager hails his team for England’s first global tournament win since 1966
• ‘This is the reward for some incredible work, some incredible sacrifices’

Paul Simpson has said he hopes his side’s triumph at the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea will pave the way for future England teams to achieve success at senior tournaments. His England team defeated Venezuela in Suwon on Sunday to record the nation’s first victory at a major global finals since 1966, with Simpson insisting being crowned world champions “means everything” to his young group.

“I hope it has a positive impact on English football,” Simpson, the former Shrewsbury Town and Stockport County manager, said. “I do not really know what is going to come but it is part of the development that we are trying to create football players who are capable of being successful at senior tournaments and hopefully this will go a long way to achieving that.

“I honestly don’t know what it means for English football. But for the Under-20s it means everything, this is what we have worked so hard for.”

Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the match-winner in Suwon, along with Sir Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters is just one of three England players to score in a World Cup final. The Everton forward, who started the season with Sheffield United in League One, struck beyond Wuilker Farinez in the 35th minute after the Venezuela goalkeeper had initially saved.

“It is hard to put into words what that feeling is like when the referee blew the final whistle,” Calvert-Lewin said. “We have wanted this so much that to come back to England as part of a select few who have won the World Cup means everything.

“To be one of only three Englishman to have scored in a World Cup final is amazing. I probably should have scored the first time to be honest. I just anticipated the keeper parrying the ball away and tried to keep my composure and managed to put it away. The feeling was just relief to be honest. I can’t remember what I did – ran to the corner flag and hit it I think but then all the lads came over.”

Lewis Cook, the Bournemouth midfielder who captained England to victory at the tournament, said: “it is the best day of my life so far”. Freddie Woodman, the Newcastle United goalkeeper, said: “to be champions of the world – it is amazing. Hopefully we have done a lot of people proud back home.”

Simpson was asked to step into the shoes of Aidy Boothroyd as Under-20s manager in March following the reshuffle the Football Association had to perform as a result of Gareth Southgate’s appointment as England manager last year. Southgate said the Under-20s “have raised the bar for everybody” in the wake of their achievements.

Simpson said that this England group, which includes Ademola Lookman, Dominic Solanke and the match-winner Dominic Calvert-Lewin, outlined their ambitions to win the World Cup in Asia this summer shortly after he took charge. “I asked them the question, ‘What do you think you can achieve?’ and they told me they thought they could win a World Cup,” he said. “We said if we want to win a World Cup we have to be absolutely committed from that moment on and they have been.

“This is the reward for some incredible work, some incredible sacrifices, and I do not think you can get a better feeling than what that felt like at the end of the game when the referee blew that whistle. We are world champions and we have waited 51 years to able to say that again as an England team. It is an incredible feeling and I do not think it will ever go away if I am honest with you.”

Simpson also admitted that while it was not his team’s “best performance” against Venezuela, who had a second-half penalty saved by the Newcastle United goalkeeper Freddie Woodman after 74 minutes, he is bursting with pride after ending England’s 51-year wait to again be crowned world champions.

“I cannot sit here and say I thought it was our best performance. We really had to battle in that second half because Venezuela put us under so much pressure but the players defended for their lives. I suppose to win a World Cup you have to do that. There are more ways than one to win a game of football and sometimes you have to defend and that is what we did.

“I think it is a really difficult thing to put into words. I said after the semi-final that I did not think there was a prouder Englishman anywhere in the world but I think I have just topped that today. I cannot believe the feeling of pride that I have got and I know it is the same for the players.”

Meanwhile, the BBC has defended its coverage of England’s World Cup victory after failing to show the trophy presentation in Suwon on BBC Two, insisting that almost the entire British population could witness the celebrations via the BBC red button.

The BBC only secured coverage of the match, which was originally only to be available on Eurosport, at a late stage. The match finished at 12.50pm and BBC Two showed some brief highlights and studio reaction before switching to coverage of the World Triathlon Series.

“We showed live coverage of the whole Under-20s World Cup final, including the trophy presentation,” read a BBC statement released to the Guardian. “The BBC Two programme included reaction to the victory before we switched to the red button – which is available to 97% of the population – for the extended period up to the trophy being lifted. This allowed us to show the scheduled live coverage of the UK leg of the World triathlon series on BBC Two.”

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