In October 2017, a crop of talented young England starlets brought home the Under-17 World Cup in India.
Steve Cooper’s Young Lions came back from two goals behind to beat Spain 5-2 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
Nearly six years on, some of those starlets have developed into world-beating superstars at senior level, while others have faded into obscurity. We’ve revisited the XI from that final and checked in on what they’re doing today.
GK: Curtis Anderson
England’s No.1 caught the eye earlier in the competition, scoring and saving in a penalty shootout victory over Japan.
That would prove to be among his career highlights to date. He was developing at Manchester City’s academy at the time but there didn’t appear any viable pathway to senior action so he left for American club Charlotte Independence in 2019.
He returned to these shores the following year to sign for Wycombe Wanderers, but he never made an appearance for the Football League club and nowadays the 22-year-old is turning out for non-league outfit Bootle.
RB: Steven Sessegnon
Twin brother of Ryan – and a cousin of Sunderland cult hero Stephane Sessegnon – Steven has risen through the England youth ranks, going on to feature for the Under-21s as recently as 2021.
He broke through and made 14 appearances for Fulham in their 2019-20 Championship promotion-winning campaign, but he never quite made the same impression as his sibling.
Sessegnon has spent recent years out on loan at Bristol City, Plymouth Argyle and Charlton Athletic and now finds himself at something of an impasse after being released by his boyhood club in the summer.
CB: Joel Latibeaudiere
Another academy prospect from Man City, Latibeaudiere wore the captain’s armband for the young guns that night.
Having been loaned out to FC Twente, the defender left for Swansea in 2020, reuniting with his old youth coach Cooper.
“It’s nice to have that relationship that we do have already from the World Cup,” Latibeaudiere told The Mirror.
“I already knew him as a manager and he knew me as a player and also a person off the pitch as well. He was a very, very important piece for the move.”
Cooper moved on from Swansea in 2021, while Latibeaudiere remains, approaching a century of appearances for the club. He’s also a senior international, but for Jamaica rather than England.
CB: Marc Guehi
Now regularly called up by Gareth Southgate for the Three Lions, Guehi left Chelsea in 2020 after impressing out on loan at Cooper’s Swansea.
He’s quietly established himself as a quality centre-back at Crystal Palace and it feels inevitable that European clubs will start chasing the 22-year-old’s signature.
We won’t get tired of watching this… 😀 pic.twitter.com/ghe5MxxnT6
— England (@England) October 30, 2017
LB: Jonathan Panzo
An interesting career path has seen Panzo go from Chelsea’s academy to Monaco, Cercle Brugge and Dijon – and eventually back to England to sign for Cooper’s Nottingham Forest in January 2022.
But he barely featured in Forest’s play-off push and was loaned out to Coventry following their promotion to the Premier League. He featured regularly last term as the Sky Blues’ campaign agonisingly ended in play-off final defeat.
Now more of a centre-back, Panzo has strongly been linked with a move to Rangers this summer.
RW: Phil Foden
Foden was among the Under-17s’ most talked-up players after bagging a brace against Spain, going on to win the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player.
One of the most decorated players in English football history at the tender age of 23. Safe to say he’s delivered on the hype.
CM: Tashan Oakley-Boothe (Angel Gomes, ’90)
A month before this tournament got underway, Oakley-Boothe was handed his Tottenham debut as a late substitute in a League Cup victory over Barnsley.
But the midfielder never kicked on from there and that short cameo ended up being his only appearance for Spurs. He left for Stoke City in 2020 and spent last term out on loan at Lincoln City.
Angel Gomes became Manchester United’s youngest-ever debutant but left for Lille in search of more regular first-team opportunities. All these years later he’s still catching the eye in England’s youth ranks.
CM: George McEachran (Conor Gallagher, ’84)
Younger brother of Josh, George’s role in England’s Under-17 World Cup victory gave hope that he could do what his once-much-hyped sibling never could and break through into Chelsea’s first team.
But that never quite happened. The midfielder never made an appearance for the Blues and after a couple of unsuccessful loans to second-tier Dutch sides, McEachran joined League Two side Swindon Town in January.
His late replacement Gallagher has since gone on to play regularly for both Chelsea and England.
LW: Callum Hudson-Odoi
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when it looked like Hudson-Odoi might well become the star player from this generation of England starlets.
Chelsea once rejected a £70million bid from Bayern Munich for the winger. You’d imagine they’d bite their hand off for half that now.
Hudson-Odoi has made over 100 appearances for the Blues but struggled to nail down a consistent run of form and failed to kickstart his career with a forgettable loan at Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen last term.
He’s made three appearances for England but remains eligible to make a frequently-rumoured switch to Ghana.
CAM: Morgan Gibbs-White (Nya Kirby, ’81)
The fourth player from this XI that Cooper has recruited at senior level, many scoffed when newly-promoted Nottingham Forest paid £35million for Gibbs-White last summer.
The playmaker became one of the most expensive English players in history but vindicated Cooper’s faith by being key to Forest’s survival in 2022-23. He was deservedly named the club’s Player of the Season.
Kirby came up through Crystal Palace’s academy but made just one League Cup appearance for the Eagles and was released in 2022. He’s been without a club for a year and it increasingly looks as though his career may lie away from football.
Morgan Gibbs-White on his assist to Danilo: "I prefer doing that to scoring goals. I had the chance to shoot but I saw Walker-Peters ready to block my shot. I saw Danilo overlapping me, so I’d try something and luckily enough it paid off." #NFFC pic.twitter.com/b607pVZ1LG
— Forest Watch (@ForestWatch_) May 10, 2023
ST: Rhian Brewster
Among the names from this team most expected to make it at the top level, Brewster lit up the tournament, winning the Golden Boot after hat-tricks in the quarters and semis and the Young Lions’ first in the final.
By that point, the forward had left Chelsea’s academy to continue his progression at Liverpool and there was genuine hope that he’d one day play his part for Jurgen Klopp’s first team.
Some even questioned Liverpool’s wisdom in letting him go to Sheffield United for £23million back in 2023. That looks like brilliant business now.
The 23-year-old is back in the Premier League but unlikely to play much of a part after making just five starts and scoring one goal in the Blades’ 2022-23 promotion-winning campaign.