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England must win these U21 Euros to impress me, warns boss Boothroyd

Date Posted,June 25, 2017

Aidy Boothroyd has told his young England side they will get a pat on the back from him – but only if they win this European Under-21 ­Championship, writes Simon Bird in Krakow.

England have always said these tournaments are crucial for the development of young players but hard-to-please ­Boothroyd said the best way to develop is to become a winner.

“We are not tourists, we are here to win it,” said Boothroyd, before Tuesday evening’s semi-final against old rivals Germany. “It’s not about enjoying the ­experience, it’s about winning.

“If we lose against Germany and someone says, ‘Well done for getting to the semi-final,’ I won’t like that. I’m not going to say ‘Well done’ because it’s not well done. In order for us to be better, we’ve got to go and win these games. We’ve got to make this ­opportunity count.

“We don’t see being in a semi-final now as a bonus. We haven’t achieved what we set out to do. We set out to get our players used to winning tournaments.

This summer, England have retained their Toulon Tournament title… (Photo: AFP)
…and the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea… (Photo: FIFA via Getty)
…but lost the Under-17 Euros final — on penalties (Photo: EPA)

“Development isn’t just about getting out of the group, ­achieving par by playing in a semi-final. It’s about winning.”

England and Germany, who play at 5pm UK time in Tychy, have ­history in this competition.

The Germans beat the Young Lions 4-0 in the final in 2009 and six of their squad kicked on to knock England out of the World Cup the next year. By 2014, the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Sammy Khedira and Mesut Ozil were winning the senior World Cup in Brazil.

England’s team in that final included Scott Loach, now at non-League Hartlepool, Huddersfield ­defender Martin Cranie and the disgraced Adam Johnson. Fabrice Muamba and Nedum Onuoha also played. James Milner and Theo Walcott flew highest from England’s class of ’09.

Boothroyd says there is a ­correlation between young-age triumphs and senior ­championship wins.

James Ward-Prowse hopes England are on the fairway to heaven (Photo: Rex Features)
Germany are for the high jump if Demarai Gray has any say (Photo: PA Wire)
Will it be game, set and match to the English keepers if penalties are needed? (Photo: PA Wire)

He added: “The Germans, the Spanish, any team that has been successful, if you look at their track record, if you delve into their history, they have won these tournaments. The teams winning these tournaments go on to win the senior tournaments, that’s a fact.

“The problem we have is that we get players to a certain ­ceiling and then they can’t get into Premier League teams ­because other players are bought. That’s a problem but we can’t do too much about that.”

Boothroyd has taken a “different career path” from Germany counterpart Stefan Kuntz, who he watched score against England in that iconic Euro 96 semi-final from his local social club.

The former Watford and Northampton manager’s stock is ­rising after the tactical switches he has made at the Euros, and he is finally shedding his ‘Hoofroyd’ reputation as a long-ball merchant.

He said: “I have proved to myself and to everybody else that I can work in a way that’s perhaps more attractive than has been portrayed in the past.”

It was 21 years ago on Monday when Kuntz scored in THAT Euro 96 semi-final… (Photo: Popperfoto)
…and now he’s in charge as the old rivals meet in the final four of another tournament (Photo: Getty)

Germany regard their current crop of U-21s as their best ever. However, they have ELEVEN missing from their squad – seven are playing in Russia at the Confederations Cup and four ­are out injured.

Despite that, 19 of their U-21 squad here in Poland are Bundesliga regulars.

Kuntz said: “It is a special game. England are doing a great job with their youth players. The best four ­countries are Spain, Italy, Germany and England. These are right now the best countries in Europe. We are looking forward to seeing who is the best.

“We want to play the biggest teams. After that you either know you are better, or you get the experience and the know-how to get better for the next time. It is a 50-50 game.”

PROBABLE TEAMS

ENGLAND Pickford, Holgate, Mawson, Chambers, Chilwell, Hughes, Baker, Ward-Prowse, Swift, Redmond, Gray

GERMANY Pollersbeck; Toljan, Stark, Kempf, Gerhardt; Dahoud, Arnold; Weiser, Meyer, Gnabry; Selke

Referee: Gediminas Mažeika (Lithuania).

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