England in penalty shootout defeat in European Under-17s semi-finals to suffer heartbreak against Netherlands


England‘s defeat on penalties in the semi-finals of the European Under-17 Championship could stand the young players in good stead, according to head coach Steve Cooper.

Cooper’s side lost last year’s final on penalties before going on to win the World Cup last October.

It was heartbreak again for his new cohort on Thursday night at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium as Netherlands advanced to Sunday’s final following a goalless draw.

Netherlands had six successful attempts before Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun saw his kick saved by Joey Koorevaar.

Cooper said: “It might be something that helps them down the line because we want them to experience everything.

“We practised penalties and had a plan and agreed to it and stuck to it. When you commit to it and it doesn’t work then that’s all you can do.

“In terms of the tournament we are in a really good place. Of course, you want to win and do well and give the players the best experiences and opportunities, but even bad experiences set players up for the future.

“We had a tough group, the players experienced the pressure of playing at home, of knock-out football, and a penalty shoot-out.

“It’s painful now but when dust settles they should be really proud and they should have no regrets.

“This is the end of their under-17 age range now and they are in a much better place than when we picked them up.”

Joey Koorevaar saves the match-winning penalty from Folarin Balogun (Getty)

Cooper added: “The landscape has changed a little bit, the public and media now expect us to do well – and that’s good, that’s what we want.

“The scrutiny the senior England squad is going to be under in Russia this summer is going to be exceptional and we need to expose these players to that as much as we can before they reach that level.”

Kees van Wonderen will attempt to win Netherlands a third Under-17 European Championship title against Italy on Sunday.

“We as a Dutch nation do not win a lot and we want to change that,” said the Netherlands coach. “Why do we always play so well but never win trophies? It will not matter how we do it on Sunday.

“We have just beaten a strong side with organised good players. We are the luckiest team but also the happiest.”


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