- 20 March
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England’s last World Cup winners: Where are Foden and the class of 2017 now?
England are hoping to end a long period without winning a World Cup by triumphing in Qatar this year…five whole years, to be precise.
While the senior team may have gone more than 50 years without tasting World Cup success, the under-17s team achieved the honour in 2017, emerging victorious in India by defeating Spain in the final.
The junior Three Lions were undoubtedly the best team in the tournament, producing the competition’s Golden Ball winner in Phil Foden and top scorer in Rhian Brewster, prompting some onlookers to claim that, maybe this time, England truly were onto a golden generation.
Five years since, while the gems have yet to truly reach their potential, a World Cup semi-final appearance in 2018 and a European Championship runners-up performance in 2020 has shown glimpses that England can eventually replicate their 2017 glory.
But where are the team from 2017 now? FootballTransfers takes a deep dive.
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England’s current 2022 World Cup squad contains two players who were in Steve Cooper’s 21-man selection – Foden and Conor Gallagher, the former being named the best player of the tournament.
Foden scored three times in India, including two goals in the 5-2 win in the final, and he went on to make ten appearances for Manchester City the following season, becoming the youngest English player to start in a Champions League game aged 17 and 192 days.
Having been fast-tracked through England’s youth ranks, Foden made 15 appearances for the under-21s before being handed his senior debut in 2020 and is now a regular under Gareth Southgate, receiving more than 20 caps and having netted against Wales in the 2022 World Cup.
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Gallagher, meanwhile, may be a surprise to some given that he made just one start in 2017, but the Chelsea midfielder has slowly developed into a fine talent, although he is perhaps on the fringes of England’s squad, having received just four senior caps.
Of the remaining 19 players from the 2017 squad, there are just four others who have been capped at senior level, with Jadon Sancho the most prominent.
Sancho only played in the group stages before being recalled by Dortmund but the winger was arguably the biggest name of the squad and he has since gone onto receive 23 caps despite missing out on Southgate’s team for Qatar.
Defender Marc Guehi was England’s vice-captain in 2017 and he has been capped three times by the senior side but failed to make the cut in 2022 despite impressing for Crystal Palace.
Emile Smith-Rowe is a player who perhaps would have added to his three caps in Qatar had it not been for injury and the Arsenal youngster was exciting in 2017, getting a goal and an assist in the tournament.
The youngest player in Cooper’s side was Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was one of two 16-year-olds in the squad and played an integral part in the tournament, however he has since failed to break into the Chelsea and England senior squad, although he too has received three caps.
Morgan Gibbs-White is the only other player who still plays in the Premier League and he perhaps has yet to live up to the hype which saw him score twice in 2017, including in the final.
Golden boot winner Brewster was prolific in India, scoring eight goals in six games, but that was as good as it got for the striker, who failed to impress in a big-money move from Liverpool to Sheffield United.
The only other player of note is Angel Gomes, who captained England throughout the tournament and was tipped for major success at Manchester United, however he has since moved to Lille and is yet to live up to his potential.
Ultimately England’s young Lions proved that there is a major jump from youth to senior football but, with Foden at the heart of the team, Southgate’s side are hoping to emulate the triumph of five years ago and finally end the country’s hurt.