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England Under-20s Make History Winning FIFA U-20 World Cup

England U20
England's players celebrate with the trophy during the awards ceremony after winning the U-20 World Cup final football match between England and Venezuela in Suwon on June 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

Take a moment to reflect, think about the longest slumps in the history of sports. Reflect once. Reflect twice. Reflect three times. Then close your eyes and play. This. Clip.

Paul Simpson’s England Under-20 National Team have made history by ending a long FIFA World Cup drought that has taken place since 1966. At the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea, a long wait that has left the home of football in despair was over. With no Under-20 competition at UEFA level, England’s main competition is the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and it was not easy for the young Lions, being placed in a group with the hosts, Argentina and Guinea.

England started the tournament ominously with a 3-0 upset win over Argentina, who normally have the senior side’s number on the world stage. Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin (38′), Newcastle United striker Adam Armstrong (52′) and new Liverpool forward Dominic Solanke (90′ + 3′) scored for the designated visitors at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium on May 20.

On May 23, a shocking result took place in Jeonju, with Guinea drawing 1-1 with the Young Lions. Chelsea product, defender Fikayo Tomori who used to play for Canada at Under-20 level (he hails from Calgary, Alberta), scored a horror own goal in the 59th minute, offsetting a 53rd minute strike from Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook. Nonetheless, on May 26, at the Suwon World Cup Stadium, England advanced to the knockout round after a 56th minute goal from Everton midfielder Kieran Dowell gave the Young Lions a 1-0 win over South Korea.

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England started the knockout rounds in the round of 16 against Costa Rica at Jeonju. Forward/winger Ademola Lookman, who is yet another Everton player, scored a brace in the 35th and 63rd minutes that helped England sink the Young Ticos 2-1 on May 31. In the quarterfinals against Mexico on June 5 at the Cheonan Stadium, Solanke was the hero with a 47th minute strike that powered England to a 1-0 win.

Italy is another country that has historically had the wood over England at senior level. This time, on June 8 at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium, the tables were turned as the Young Azzurri were put to the sword, 3-1. Solanke scored a brace in the 66th and 88th minutes while Lookman added some 77th minute insurance. And in the final on June 11 at the Suwon World Cup Stadium, Calvert-Lewin scored the last goal for England at this tournament in the 35th minute for a 1-0 win over the Vinotinto of Venezuela, whose Cinderella run came to an end.

Despite making history, Simpson believes that keeping the boys grounded will validate this team’s makeup as the new golden generation.

“It is too early for that, we could sit and make all sorts of bold statements,” said Simpson. “Let’s enjoy what we have done, it is a wonderful achievement from them. We are the world champions at under-20 level which isn’t easy.

“Let’s see what comes next and hope they continue to develop. We hope we can lead them and guide them through these next stages to get the football they need and they can go on to be successful. This will be an incredible experience for them to take forward whatever they go on to do. They will remember this for the rest of their lives and get confidence from this and hopefully the whole of the country can enjoy their achievements.”

Golden generation or not, this was truly a golden moment for England to savor and is clear-cut eyewash for the senior team embarrassing themselves in FIFA World Cup Qualification against Scotland (the match ended in a 2-2 draw away). Perhaps a switch of players could be in order, as England’s road to redemption on the big stage has come to a positive conclusion. Vangelis send help.

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