Football Features

What happened next? England’s first-ever U-20 World Cup-winning side from 2017

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 20:02, 6 June 2020

England and world champions uttered in the same sentence when relating to football conjures memories of 1966, that was until the summer of 2017.

The last few years have seen the Three Lions become a powerhouse regarding youth football, or to be more precise, being successful in various Uefa-sanctioned competitions.

It wouldn’t be long before they would triumph on the world stage. Paul Simpson, at the helm of England’s U-20 side, was cautiously optimistic heading into the World Cup being staged in South Korea.

And for good reason, his charges would not lose a single game heading into the final against Venezuela, whom they’d brush aside 1-0 to end a 51-year wait to win a global tournament trophy.

Those who featured became household names overnight, in the process shining the spotlight once again on the relationship between developing homegrown stars and English football’s top division (the Premier League).

That being said, what has been the fate of those 13 players Simpson used in the Suwon final?

GK: Freddie Woodman

Age: 23
Club: Swansea City (on loan from Newcastle United)
Senior caps: 0

A graduate of Newcastle United’s youth system, whom he joined from boyhood club Crystal Palace, the south Londoner featured in all but one of England’s seven U-20 World Cup matches, keeping four clean sheets in the process which ultimately earned him the competition’s Golden Glove award.

Yet to establish himself in the Magpies starting XI, having only made four appearances to date, he’s spent time on loan at Aberdeen and Swansea City since the 2017 World Cup.

RB: Jonjoe Kenny

Age: 23
Club: Schalke 04 (on loan from Everton)
Senior caps: 0

One of a number of Evertonians in England’s championship-winning squad, the Liverpudlian truly broke through at Goodison Park during the 2017/18 campaign but has struggled to supplant Seamus Coleman at right-back ever since. This season, he’s been on loan at Bundesliga outfit Schalke 04. Although he’s had a number of impressive performances, he continues to show that lack of positional and defensive awareness which has held him back on Merseyside.

CB: Fikayo Tomori

Age: 22
Club: Chelsea
Senior caps: 1

A product of Chelsea’s esteemed academy, the native of Calgary – who lifted back-to-back Uefa Youth League titles in 2015 and 2016 – enjoyed a loan spell at Championship side Hull City in the 2017/18 season while he played a key role in Derby County reaching the 2018/19 play-off final under Frank Lampard. He has since thrived back at Chelsea under the very same manager.

CB: Jake Clarke-Salter

Age: 22
Club: Birmingham City (on loan from Chelsea)
Senior caps: 0

Tomori’s club-mate and yet another Chelsea academy graduate who spent the 2017/18 season playing Championship football, though Clarke-Salter’s loan spell at Sunderland was one to forget as he suffered the ignominy of relegation. Last season, he impressed on loan on Vitesse but has still been unable to make a breakthrough at Stamford Bridge, finding himself on loan at Birmingham City this season.

LB: Kyle Walker-Peters

Age: 23
Club: Southampton (on loan from Tottenham Hotspur)
Senior caps: 0

First team appearances have been few and far between for Kyle Walker-Peters, even in the face of the likes of Kieran Trippier losing form and departing for Atletico Madrid. He did, however, register three assists during a 5–0 home win against Bournemouth, becoming the youngest player, aged 21 years and 257 days, to provide three assists in a Premier League game since Jermaine Pennant (aged 20 years and 227 days). He’s now on loan at Southampton.

CM: Lewis Cook

Age: 23
Club: Bournemouth
Senior caps: 1

Lewis Cook has kicked on since his 2017 success, where he became the first England captain to lift a world trophy since Bobby Moore, earning his first senior England cap against Italy in March 2018 as well as being close to making Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup, ultimately named as one of the five players on standby. A mainstay in Bournemouth’s midfield.

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CM: Josh Onomah

Age: 23
Club: Fulham
Senior caps: 0

Limited opportunities in north London saw Onomah, another product of Spurs reputable academy system, join Aston Villa on a season-long loan where he played over 1,860 minutes of league football including a brief cameo in their Championship play-off final defeat against Fulham. He also spent the 2018/19 season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday.

He moved to Fulham in the 2019 summer transfer window as part of the deal which saw Ryan Sessegnon relocate to Tottenham.

RM: Kieran Dowell

Age: 22
Club: Wigan Athletic (on loan from Everton)
Senior caps: 0

Dowell, another born and bred at Everton, initially broke through at Goodison Park during the 2015/16 season – playing 72 minutes across two Premier League matches – but has rarely featured since, instead enjoying loan spells at Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United, with whom he won promotion from the Championship. This season, he’s been on loan with Wigan Athletic.

CF: Dominic Solanke

Age: 22
Club: Bournemouth
Senior caps: 1

Ever-present during England’s incredible run, missing only 28 minutes of action, the former Chelsea academy graduate registered four goals including a brace in their semi-final win over Italy. His performances earned him a move to Liverpool, where Solanke played a squad role under Jurgen Klopp, leading to Southgate handing over a first senior international cap against Brazil at Wembley Stadium in November 2017. Solanke has since moved to Bournemouth for £19m but has scored just once in 38 appearances for the Cherries.

LM: Ademola Lookman

Age: 22
Club: RB Leipzig
Senior caps: 0

RB Leizpig winger Ademola Lookman in pre-season action against Rennes

Tipped for big things as he came through at Charlton Athletic, the Londoner joined Everton in early 2017 and seemed to establish himself under then-manager Ronald Koeman. However, limited opportunities following his departure saw him join RB Leipzig on a six-month loan where he shone brightly having registered five goals and four assists across 11 outings for the Bundesliga outfit. Last season, Lookman once again struggled for minutes under Marco Silva and he ultimately re-joined Leipzig, this time on a permanent basis. He’s regressed once again since though.

ST: Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Age: 23
Club: Everton
Senior caps: 0

Lookman’s teammate at Goodison Park has been a mainstay since arriving from Sheffield United in August 2016. The Yorkshireman, who scored the winning goal against Venezuela, has excelled this season, first when Duncan Ferguson took over as caretaker Everton manager following Silva’s sacking, then as Carlo Ancelotti moved into the Goodison dugout. 15 goals in 32 appearances across all competitions represents his most prolific season to date.

Substitutes:

Sheyi Ojo

Age: 22
Club: Rangers (on loan from Liverpool)
Senior caps: 0

It’s rather unlikely that Ojo has a long-term future at Anfield on the count he’s been regularly loaned out since making his first-team debut in 2015. His most recent adventure has seen him head north of the border to Rangers, managed by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Age: 22
Club: Arsenal
Senior caps: 0

One of the very last Arsenal youngsters to be handed their first-team debut under Arsene Wenger the Goodmayes-born multifunctional footballer grabbed his opportunity by the scruff of the neck, having made 15 league appearances during the 2017/18 season. Maitland-Niles has often filled in as a makeshift full-back for Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta since then.

Total senior international caps: 3