Records and a memorable English triumph makes the 2017 U-17 WC special

The triumph of England in its maiden FIFA Under-17 World Cup final appearance is like a surrealistic outcome of a perfectly synchronised choreography. The English coach Steve Cooper turned philosophical as his team realised the dream of becoming a world champion in the junior stage scoring a fantastic comeback win (5-2) against a pedigreed opponent like Spain. England scored five after conceding two initially making the seven-goal feast the best contested final in the history of the 32-year-old tournament.

“I am speechless. The feeling is little bit surreal. The players were fantastic all throughout the tournament. In my opinion, we are worthy winners of the tournament considering the goals we scored and the football that we played,” Copper said after seeing his team emerge the winner with an undefeated record (including the Round-of-16 stage win against Japan on penalties).

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“To be 2-0 down in a World Cup and to come back and win 5-2 tells you everything about the character of English players,” the England coach was ecstatic in the way his team virtually monopolised the tournament. While the English team took the crown scoring 23 goals in seven matches, two of the top individual awards were cornered by its players. Rhian Brewester took home the ‘golden boot’ as the top scorer (eight goals) while the versatile midfielder Philip Foden earned the ‘golden ball’ award for the the best player of the tournament.

When asked about whom he would dedicate the trophy to, Cooper turned to the five-year-old elite development programme happening in the National football centre in St. George’s Park in Staffordshire. “This trophy is dedicated to the good work that is being done in England, the academies and the young players being trained there,” he said “So for me it is the recognition of where English football wants to go. To think of we are the holders of U-17 and U-20 World Cups for me is pretty special,” Copper put the development factor in perspective.

Cooper also congratulated India and Kolkata for playing the perfect host. While his team broke some records on the way to becoming the champion, India as the first-time host of the World Cup also responded with a record attendance. India surpassed China, the host of the inaugural edition in 1985, to record an attendance of something around 12,90,000. This comfortably surpassed the earlier record attendance of 12,30,976 set in China. In this count, Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium logged the highest total among the six host venues with figures of over 5,50,000 spectators and an average attendance of over 54,000 per match.

“I have to say thank you to India and Kolkata deserves special mention. The six out of seven games we have played out here, it has been an amazing experience,” Cooper said. The tournament set a new record in the number of goals scored clocking 183 goals, which was 11 more than the previous record of 172, achieved in 2013 in UAE.

The Spanish coach Santiago Denia could not help but congratulate for the way his opponent made the transition at the right time. “We played the first 40 minutes but England proved very good at transition as we started playing the possession-game. We left open spaces at the back which they exploited,”  Denia said as his team failed to lift the cup after reaching its fourth final.

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