How England’s young lions have fared 500 days after U17 World Cup glory, from non-league to Champions League
THEY were the Young Lions ready to break through as the next Golden Generation.
Back on 28 October 2017, Steve Cooper led England’s youngsters to Fifa Under-17 World Cup glory.
It is now five years since the talented teens achieved the incredible milestone – with several going on to bigger and better things.
The victory led to head coach Cooper moving into club management with Swansea – where he TWICE suffered Championship play-off agony.
He is now in charge of Nottingham Forest, leading a stunning transformation in form with the Tricky Trees and earning promotion to the Premier League via the play offs.
But for all the successes of Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho, not every member of his victorious team have taken the next step.
While some struggle for first-team football, others have fallen out of the Football League all together.
We run through which players have made their mark on the senior game and which are yet to hit the big time after their historic win.
Curtis Anderson, 21
Anderson was No1 in India and played a crucial role in guiding the Young Lions to victory with his penalty shoot-out heroics against Japan in the last-16.
He left Manchester City’s academy in 2019 to join American second tier outfit Charlotte Independence and played ten league matches for them.
The stopper returned to these shores with Wycombe Wanderers but is yet to play in the league for them and was even sent out on loan to non-league Walton Casuals.
Last term, he went on loan with National League South outfit Eastbourne Borough, before signing for Lancaster City for this upcoming season.
Josef Bursik, 21
Long considered as a potential long-term successor to Jack Butland at Stoke, the teenager was loaned out to gain first-team experience after the triumph with England.
Bursik had spells in non-league with Hednesford Town and AFC Telford United before stints in the Football League with Accrington Stanley, Doncaster Rovers, Peterborough and Lincoln City.
He became Stoke’s No1 last season before losing his place in January and eventually joining Posh on an emergency loan.
Billy Crellin, 22
Ex-Fleetwood boss Joey Barton ended Crellin’s loan move to FC United of Manchester early after the National League North side won just one of 10 games with the then-teenager in 2018.
Barton recalled the ace, who made just one appearance for England in India, when he was just 19 and gave him a first-team start in the EFL Trophy.
He went back out on loan to non-league Chorley before spending 2020-21 at Bolton in League Two and played 11 times.
Back in January, Crellin signed for Everton for an undisclosed fee.
Timothy Eyoma, 22
The versatile defender, known as TJ, caught the attention of Mauricio Pochettino, who gave him a first-team debut in Spurs’ 7-0 FA Cup third-round win over Tranmere in 2019.
Eyoma was a regular for Tottenham’s Premier League 2 side but was also named as a substitute for an FA Cup win against West Ham, having been on the first-team’s pre-season tour.
But he went on loan to Lincoln City last season in League One and impressed that much that they bought him permanently from Spurs last summer.
Lewis Gibson, 21
Three months before winning the World Cup, Newcastle academy product Gibson moved to Everton from St James’ Park for £6million.
Despite not making a first-team appearance, U23s boss David Unsworth has heaped praise on the teen who can play left-back or central defence.
The now England U20 international has gained further experience at Fleetwood and Reading and enjoyed a loan at League One Sheffield Wednesday.
Marc Guehi, 21
Captained England at the European Championships before scoring in the World Cup final, and then starred in Jody Morris’ Chelsea youth team that won five trophies in a year.
But the central defender, who was born in the Ivory Coast, is one of many that struggled to make a mark on the Blues first-team despite impressing for the U19s.
And after shining on loan under Cooper at Swansea in the Championship last season, he is now a regular in the Premier League at Crystal Palace after they signed him last summer and has earned three full caps for his country now.
Jonathan Panzo, 21
After nine years in Chelsea’s academy, the central defender signed a five-year deal with Ligue 1’s Monaco in 2018 search of first-team opportunities.
Panzo made the first-team after impressing former boss Thierry Henry who handed him a full debut in that December’s League Cup quarter-final win over Lorient.
However, he struggled and was shipped out to Cercle Brugge in Belgian before he transferred to French second tier side Dijon.
Now Panzo find himself with Nottingham Forest, where he will get a crack at making it in the Prem.
Joel Latibeaudiere, 22
The World Cup winner was involved in a contract stand-off with Manchester City after failing to make a single senior appearance.
The concerns over a lack of first-team games led to Latibeaudiere leaving in 2020 for Swansea after a spell on loan in Holland at Twente.
Latibeaudiere has 20 appearances to his name in a little over a year.
Steven Sessegnon, 22
Twin of Tottenham star Ryan Sessegnon, versatile defender Steven broke into the Fulham first-team in 2018-19 with 14 Championship appearances.
But after he was axed – failing to play in the horror 2019-20 Premier League campaign – he was sent away for a loan spell at Bristol City, then went to Plymouth Argyle.
Sessegnon hasn’t played for the West London outfit since 2020, and will spend next season on loan at Charlton.
George McEachran, 21
Younger brother of former Blue Josh McEachran, George has managed to impress at Chelsea in the youth ranks.
The central midfielder has still not managed to progress into the star-studded first team squad.
But he has gained experience with loan stints at Dutch clubs Cambuur and MVV although he is back at Stamford Bridge now.
Phil Foden, 22
The Golden Ball winner at the 2017 U17 World Cup, Foden – who scored twice in the final – is a favourite of Pep Guardiola’s and is also a regular in the England side under Gareth Southgate.
The star is one of the biggest success stories from the tournament and already has four Premier League titles, an FA Cup and four Carabao Cup medals in his trophy cabinet.
He also helped guide the Three Lions to the Euro 2020 showpiece and is well on course to becoming one of the finest talents of his generation.
Tashan Oakley-Boothe, 22
Was given a first-team debut by Pochettino at Tottenham with a substitute appearance in the EFL Cup win over Barnsley – replacing Dele Alli – but Oakley-Boothe never went on to make a regular breakthrough.
He struggled with injury problems, which limited his involvement, before leaving Spurs in 2020 without having played a Premier League game for them.
But he has made 23 appearances for Stoke in the Championship since his departure.
This season, he will take his talents to Lincoln City.
Angel Gomes, 21
Made his first-team debut before the 2017 World Cup and became the youngest ever Premier League player at 16 years and 263 days old.
Gomes made several appearances after that but it was still not enough to keep him at Old Trafford.
Despite United’s best efforts, the now U21 international quit the Red Devils to join French side Lille in 2020.
Most recently, he spent last term on loan at Portuguese outfit Boavista.
Jadon Sancho, 22
Another successful product of the squad, Sancho replaced Christian Pulisic in the Dortmund first-team, was named Bundesliga Player of the Month soon after and quickly earned an England call-up after the World Cup success.
He continued to flourish with the Bundesliga side having bravely quit Manchester City to conquer Europe in 2017.
Sancho missed the U17 World Cup final after leaving the tournament midway through to return to Dortmund duty.
Now back in Manchester after United ended their long-pursuit to sign him last summer for £73m, Sancho began to find his form in the tail-end of last season.
Nya Kirby, 22
Tottenham academy product Kirby left Crystal Palace in January 2019 in search of first-team opportunities after 18 months without a game.
The midfielder, now 22, moved to then-League One side Blackpool and went on to spend time at Tranmere Rovers.
He was released by the Eagles at the end of the 2021-22 season.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, 21
A key figure in the U17 World Cup final, Hudson-Odoi excelled at Stamford Bridge and broke into the Blues first team.
Bayern Munich were soon chasing his services after he broke into the senior England set-up.
But the winger eventually penned a new big-money deal at Chelsea which coincided with his form dropping.
Tasted Champions League success with the club but is now struggling to get regular minutes under Thomas Tuchel.
Emile Smith Rowe, 21
Another huge success story from the World Cup-winning squad.
After loan stints in Germany at RB Leipzig and with Huddersfield Town, the attacker is now a fully-fledged member of both Arsenal’s first-team and the England U21 squad.
So strong is his current form, Gareth Southgate recently admitted the ace is on the verge of a senior international call-up.
Morgan Gibbs-White, 22
Became an instrumental figure in the Wolves team under Nuno Espirito Santo and is another one of the most successful products of the U17s squad.
The midfielder, who scored against Spain in the final, was a regular in the first-team squad but has headed out on loan this term after his game-time was reduced.
Gibbs-White, who had a spell on loan at Swansea, had a brilliant spell last season in the Championship with Sheffield United.
Conor Gallagher, 22
The midfielder fulfilled his potential in the Premier League after joining Crystal Palace on loan last season.
The Chelsea youngster grabbed the headlines with each passing week under Patrick Vieira, helping the club reach the FA Cup semi final.
Stints at Charlton and Swansea gave Gallagher his first taste of senior football after the World Cup success and that was followed by a spell at West Brom last term.
Big things are expected of the England Under-21 international.
Rhian Brewster, 22
Golden Boot winner at the U17 World Cup and one of the stars of the tournament, Brewster signed a five-year deal at Liverpool and was tipped to break into the first-team, with Jurgen Klopp a fan of the young striker.
But the high hopes around the club never materialised.
Following an injury, he went on loan to Championship side Swansea in January 2020 and scored ten goals in 20 appearances.
After missing a penalty in the Community Shield following his Liverpool return, Sheffield United forked out a whopping £23.5m – but it has turned into a nightmare move.
The striker suffered relegation with the Blades in his first season and scored just four times last time out.
Danny Loader, 21
Berkshire-born Loader only scored once in 28 games for Reading after his World Cup success.
But the striker, who was back-up to Brewster in India and managed two goals in two games, caught the eye of Portuguese giants Porto and moved there in 2020.
He bagged nine times for their B side last season but the England U20 international still has not played for the first-team in the league.