Football Features

England’s U17 World Cup winners: Steve Cooper’s first major triumph in the dugout

By Ben Green

Published: 15:27, 19 August 2022

In 2017 England’s fledgling stars etched their names into the history books by scooping the U17 World Cup in India.

The Three Lions’ young generation smashed Spain 5-2 after going 2-0 down inside 31 minutes of the final, which took place at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata, resulting in head coach Steve Cooper — who has since guided Nottingham Forest to Premier League promotion — and his side lifting the U17 World Cup trophy.

Evidently, Cooper’s side possessed a significant amount of talent to go all the way and win the competition outright. Some have made a name for themselves abroad, while others are rubbing shoulders with very best on home soil.

It was a landmark moment in English football history. But, where are Cooper’s talented tyros now?


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The final XI

Goalkeeper: Curtis Anderson

Club at the time: Man City

Current club: Lancaster City

Starting in the final, Anderson’s greatest moment came when he both saved and scored in the Round of 16 penalty shoot-out win against Japan.

The teenager became disillusioned with playing opportunities at the Etihad and left for second-tier North American side Charlotte Independence in 2019.

However, that stateside move failed to pay dividends for the young shot-stopper and he is now turning out for Lancaster City in the Northern Premier League.

Right-back: Steven Sessegnon

Club at the time: Fulham

Current club: Charlton (on loan from Fulham)

The twin brother of the highly-regarded Ryan, Steven played in five games (including the final, where he provided two assists) in England’s winning year.

The Fulham defender has found playing time hard to come by at Craven Cottage, and will spend the 2022/23 season on loan across London with Charlton Athletic — his Fulham contract is also up next summer.

Centre-back: Joel Latibeaudiere

Club at the time: Man City

Current club: Swansea City

Latibeaudiere was given the responsibility of the captaincy, and he duly delivered with some fine performances at the back for the Three Lions.

After playing every minute in the competition, the 22-year-old finally got a taste of first-team action on loan in the Eredivisie with FC Twente in 2019/20, but that was evidently not enough to convince Pep Guardiola and ultimately linked back up with Cooper when he was manager of Swansea in 2020.

Centre-back: Marc Guehi

Club at the time: Chelsea

Current club: Crystal Palace

The Chelsea graduate played every minute of the World Cup finals and even scored England’s fourth goal in the final, putting the game out of reach for the Spaniards.

Featuring 30 times for the youth team throughout the 2017/18 campaign and completing a fantastic quadruple, Guehi spent the 2019/20 season reunited with Cooper at Swansea, where his imperious showings at the back helped guide the club to the play-off semi-finals.

That was not enough to make Thomas Tuchel take too much notice, and Guehi ultimately joined Crystal Palace last summer, where his performances culminated in a senior England cap earlier this year.

Left-back: Jonathan Panzo

Club at the time: Monaco

Current club: Coventry City (on loan from Nottingham Forest)

The former Chelsea defender, who can also play at left-back as he did in India, started the final and was a real presence in the England backline throughout the successful campaign.

Swapping the city lights of London for the warm coastal breeze of Monaco for £2.5m in 2018, Panzo enjoyed a fruitful campaign on loan for Cercle Brugge in 2019/20 before moving permanently to Dijon, and then, reuniting with that man Cooper at Forest this year. However, he has played just once for the Reds’ senior team so far and will spend the current campaign on loan at Coventry.

Central midfield: Tashan Oakley-Boothe 

Club at the time: Spurs

Current club: Lincoln City (on loan from Stoke_

Having made his first-team debut for Spurs in the League Cup prior to the competition, Oakley-Boothe played six games in India, including the final.

Having found an avenue to the first-team in north London hard to come by he traded the capital for Stoke City in January 2020 after rejecting a contract extension. He is currently on loan at Lincoln City in League One.

Central midfield: George McEachran

Club at the time: Chelsea

Current club: Free agent

The Blues midfielder lasted 87 minutes in the final with the game already won for Cooper’s side. After winning the U17’s World Cup, McEachran went on to win four more trophies at youth level that season.

The younger brother of one-time Chelsea academy prospect Josh McEachran, he has now left the club without a first-team appearance, released at the end of his contract. McEachran was an unused substitute in the 2019 Europa League final in 2018/19 and spent time on loan with Dutch clubs Cambuur and MVV in 2020.

Right-wing: Phil Foden

Club at the time: Man City

Current club: Man City

The highly talented playmaker scored two goals against Spain to cement his place as one of the best players of both the final and the competition as a whole. Foden went on to win the U17 World Cup Golden Ball award following England’s triumph, followed by the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.

Pep Guardiola has put a significant amount of faith in the 22-year-old who has made 172 appearances for the first-team to date, while the ‘Stockport Iniesta’ also recently went on to claim his second Premier League Young Player of the Season award as City lifted the title.

Central attacking midfield: Morgan Gibbs-White

Club at the time: Wolves

Current club: Nottingham Forest

A starter for Cooper in the final, but subbed off in the 81st minute after bagging himself a goal to draw England level 23 minutes earlier, Gibbs-White has had a chance to showcase his talents for Sheffield United this season. Having never really established a consistent starting berth at Wolves, the attacking midfielder was sensational in Yorkshire across 2021/22 as the Blades reached the Championship play-off semi-finals. He claimed the club’s Player of the Year award and Young Player of the Year award.

And it appears that those performances caught the eye of Nottingham Forest, who have splashed out a club-record £35m (rising to £42.5m with add-ons) to sign Gibbs-White from Wolves, making him the 10th most-expensive English player of all time.

Left-wing: Callum Hudson-Odoi

Club at the time: Chelsea

Current club: Chelsea

The exceptionally gifted Chelsea winger assisted two goals in the showpiece event against Spain and has improved in leaps and bounds since returning to England.

The three-capped England international became a first-team regular for Chelsea in 2018/19 but suffered an Achilles tendon injury towards the end of the campaign.

That did not deter Bayern Munich’s interest, though, who pulled out all the stops to secure his signature. The Blues ultimately retained his services, but the winger hasn’t quite been the same since that horror injury against Burnley and is currently being linked with a move away.

Striker: Rhian Brewster

Club at the time: Liverpool

Current club: Sheffield United

Successive hat-tricks in the quarter-finals and semi-finals against the USA and Brazil respectively, followed by England’s first goal in their final win, Brewster’s eight U17 World Cup goals won him the highly-respected ‘Golden Boot’ award and the Bronze Ball for his individual performances.

And you’ll begin to notice a pattern emerging here. Cooper used his pulling power to bring Brewster to south Wales in 2020, where the Liverpool loanee netted an impressive 11 goals in 22 games and formed a fantastic partnership with Andre Ayew for Swansea.

However, a permanent move to Sheffield United that summer failed to work out as the Blades suffered relegation, with the 22-year-old failing to score in 27 games, while he hit just three times in the Championship last season. Not quite the prolific scoring heights many were hoping.

The rest

Jadon Sancho

Club at the time: Borussia Dortmund

Current club: Manchester United

Sancho withdrew from the England squad after the group stage but my word has the former Manchester City youngster gone on to do well.

Established in the Dortmund first-team, Sancho evolved into one of the most exciting prospects in European football, leading Manchester United to spend £80m on him last summer. It hasn’t quite worked out just yet at Old Trafford, but there have been promising signs for a player who is still only just 22.


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Angel Gomes

Club at the time: Manchester United

Current club: Lille

Gomes rejected a contract extension at Old Trafford and moved to Lille in 2020, before immediately completing a season-long loan move to Boavista in Portugal.

Perhaps taking a leaf out of Sancho’s book, Gomes traded the comforts of his homeland for pastures new in the hopes of accelerating his development and getting some much-needed game time at senior level.

The youngster had made his first-team debut earlier in 2017 at just 16 years and 263 days old. In doing so, he became the youngest player to represent Manchester United since Duncan Edwards in 1953. With four games, two goals and one assist at the U17 World Cup, Gomes certainly threw down the gauntlet in India.

Emile Smith Rowe 

Club at the time: Arsenal

Current club: Arsenal

Three appearances in total in India, the Arsenal playmaker had a few brief tastes of first-team football under Unai Emery, but has truly accelerated his reputation under Mikel Arteta, establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s most creative midfield forces, and earning three caps for England along the way.

Conor Gallagher

Club at the time: Chelsea

Current club: Chelsea

Thought Cooper was done there? No chance. Gallagher also swapped Stamford Bridge for the Liberty Stadium whilst Cooper was in Wales.

The 22-year-old made a cameo appearance in the final but has went on to be the leading man at Crystal Palace in his latest loan move, winning the club’s Player of the Year award and earning three England caps. While Gallagher has been linked with a move away, Chelsea appear determined to keep him as part of their first-team this season, though his two appearances so far have brought just six minutes on the pitch.

Timothy Eyoma

Club at the time: Spurs

Current club: Lincoln City

The London-born right-back made three appearances at the U17 World Cup and 15 outings for the side overall.

Subsequently, he made his senior debut for Spurs in an FA Cup match against Tranmere in 2018/19 but now turns out for Lincoln City.

Lewis Gibson

Club at the time: Everton

Current club: Bristol Rovers (0n loan from Everton)

Another player to earn a move in the summer prior to the tournament, swapping Newcastle United for the blue half of Merseyside, Gibson was handed the captaincy of the Under-23s by former boss David Unsworth at the end of the 2017 season, despite being just 17 years old.

He is still on the books at Goodison Park, currently out on loan at Bristol Rovers.

Danny Namaso 

Club at the time: Reading

Current club: Porto

Two games and two goals for Namaso (then known as Danny Loader), who had to play second fiddle to the talents of Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster. The 21-year-old made 35 appearances for Reading and now plays for Porto, where he scored on his senior debut against Boavista last season.

Nya Kirby

Club at the time: Crystal Palace

Current club: Free agent

The Crystal Palace youngster made late appearances off the bench for England as they ran away as tournament winners.

He impressed while on loan with Blackpool in 2019, but he hasn’t really kicked on, leaving Palace in the summer.

Josef Bursik

Club at the time: Stoke

Current club: Stoke

After sealing a transfer from AFC Wimbledon to then Premier League outfit Stoke City in the summer of 2017, Bursik travelled with the U17s to India for the World Cup tournament but didn’t get any minutes under his belt.

The 22-year-old has spent time on loan at local side Hednesford Town, AFC Telford United, Accrington Stanley, Doncaster Rovers, Peterborough United and Lincoln City and is now the first choice ‘keeper for the Potters when fit and available.

William Crellin

Club at the time: Fleetwood

Current club: Everton

The youngster made just one appearance at the U17 World Cup because of Cooper’s trust in Curtis Anderson.

The Fleetwood goalkeeper enjoyed some fruitful loan spells away from the club that prompted Everton to sign him in January.

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