Gareth Southgate believes players in England teams at every level will feel they can win major tournaments after the Under-20 side’s triumph at the World Cup.
England were successful at world level for the first time since the senior side’s 1966 win as Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s goal and a penalty save from Freddie Woodman sealed a 1-0 triumph over Venezuela in the final.
Southgate, promoted to senior coach from the Under-21 job after Sam Allardyce’s departure, thinks giving the junior teams big-game experience has been key to that success.
He told a media conference ahead of the senior team’s friendly with France on Tuesday: “We’ve been watching youth teams at every level. We made big decisions to improve our programme a few years ago.
“At the time it was a bit controversial. We needed to go to play the likes of Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
“This group that won went to Mexico last summer and played Mexico at this tournament. We’ve exposed them to a good quality games programme.
“When I was a senior and played Brazil it was my first experience playing against them. Our younger guys have that experience now.
“It’s another sign of belief. We’ve got some excellent players who have a lot of potential. The more you’re in those big matches, the better. Once momentum builds and as a country starts winning things, every age group starts saying ‘why not us’.
“They’ve got real resilience as a group, we can have that at any age group that’s for certain.”
England may be faced with the task of defending Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe, the 19-year-old who has been linked with Real Madrid, Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain after firing the principality club to Ligue 1 glory.
On Mbappe, Southgate added: “Of all the countries we’ve played at youth level, France have been the most impressive in terms of the depth of talent.
“They won the Under-20s World Cup not so long ago. Their league is different to ours, it’s a better opportunity for young players to play regularly. He’s had an excellent season, an indication of the depth of talent they have.”
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