England Under-20 manager Paul Simpson hopes his side’s World Cup triumph can act as a stepping stone to success for the senior team.
Simpson’s Young Lions were the first England side to reach a world showpiece for over half a century and they followed in the footsteps of Sir Alf Ramsey’s players, who lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1966, by beating Venezuela 1-0 in South Korea.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Freddie Woodman grabbed the headlines in a team of heroes. Everton’s Calvert-Lewin scored the game’s only goal after 35 minutes while a second-half penalty save from Newcastle goalkeeper Woodman preserved England’s advantage and ensured they became world champions.
After the final, Simpson - who is former Preston North End manager and Blackpool winger , said “What a weekend it’s been for our national teams with the other Under-20 side winning the Toulon Tournament and now we have capped it off with winning the World Cup.
“We’ve got some wonderful players and a wonderful support staff. We’ve got some real top-quality coaches back at home who have supported us all the way, as have the teams below us and the senior team above us too. There’s a real unity about the England set up.It’s a dream come true, and that doesn’t even sound like a strong enough statement to express how big an achievement this is for everyone concerned.
“Hopefully we can use this as a stepping stone as ultimately the goal is to be successful at senior level and this has been a terrific experience for these players to help develop them for senior football.”
England survived a few scares en route to their victory in the final as Ronaldo Lucena’s swerving, dipping free-kick from all of 40 yards clipped the outside of a post and Adalberto Penaranda saw his penalty brilliantly saved by Woodman.
Simpson was pleased with how his players dug in and held on.
He said: “That was one tough evening for us but what a feeling when that whistle went, all that hard work all coming together at the end. It was wonderful for us all.
“The second half was a real grind for us. The players have defended for their lives out there and have shown an unbelievable spirit to keep that clean sheet. It was an unbelievable save from Freddie Woodman from the penalty.
“I think that over the whole of the tournament we have shown that we are the best side. Maybe not on the night in the final but it was just about finding a way to win that game and the players have done it and I’m absolutely delighted.”