Where are they now? England’s 2017 Under-20 World Cup winners
The summer of 2017 provided plenty of optimism for English football as the Under-20 side won the World Cup, to go with success in the Toulon tournament, Under-19 European Championship and Under-17 World Cup.
They became the first England football team to win a World Cup since Bobby Moore lifted the trophy in 1966, beating Venezuela 1-0 in the final in South Korea.
We’ve taken a look at the team that played in the final to see how well they are each progressing following the historic win.
GK: Freddie Woodman
England’s penalty-saving hero remains on the books at Newcastle United but has just finished his sevnth loan spell away from St James’ Park woith Bournemouth.
He only played once for the Cherries in the FA Cup, but he’d done well at Swansea before that, spending two seasons in South Wales and keeping an impressive 20 clean sheets in 45 second-tier games in the 2020-21 campaign, helping Steve Cooper’s men into the play-offs for a second consecutive time.
Don’t be surprised to see him get a call-up to England’s senior side at some point, given Gareth Southgate is his godfather.
RB: Jonjoe Kenny
One of the winners of the 2014 Under-17 European Championship, Kenny has since gone on to make 50 Premier League appearances at Everton, including 15 in the most recent campaign under Rafa Benitez and Frank Lampard.
He hasn’t impressed every Everton boss though and was shipped out on loan to Celtic during 2020-21 campaign – his fourth loan spell away from Goodison Park following stints with Oxford United and Schalke. He made 16 appearances in a disappointing season for the club, but at least he managed four assists.
We won’t talk about the Old Firm own goal…
An own goal doubles Rangers' lead! 🔵
A great team move, a good run by Kent, and Jonjoe Kenny ends up turning it into his own net under pressure
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) April 18, 2021
CB: Fikayo Tomori
One of the biggest success stories of this team. An impressive loan spell with Derby County in 2019-20 eventually saw the centre-back catapulted into the Chelsea first-team under Frank Lampard.
He then fell out of favour at Stamford Bridge but has really re-established himself at San Siro with AC Milan.
He helped Milan to their first Scudetto in 11 years in 2022 and former Milan man Mauro Tassotti, who knew a thing or two about defending, said: “Tomori is good at winning the ball back, his speed is impressive. He anticipates a lot and he’s always aggressive.”
It’s worth remembering one of the three goals conceded by England during the competition was this stunning own goal, scored by the defender.
— Yahoo Sport UK (@YahooSportUK) May 23, 2017
CB: Jake Clarke-Salter
Another Chelsea centre-back, Clarke-Salter has not enjoyed the same ascent as Tomori and is yet to be given his chance in the Blues’ first team – although he has captained England’s Under-21s.
“I’d be silly to say I wouldn’t want to be in the position where I could play for Chelsea. Anyone would,” he told The Independent in September 2019. “It’s very hard to have patience at times, but you have to understand that there are world-class players at Chelsea. You learn to appreciate that.”
The 2020-21 season saw him spend a fifth loan spell away from Stamford Bridge, making 10 Championship appearances in his second stay with Birmingham City.
LB: Kyle Walker-Peters
Walker-Peters was on the fringes of Tottenham’s first team for three seasons after enjoying glory at the Under-20s World Cup, making 24 appearances in all competitions, including the Champions League.
In January 2020, the full-back joined Southampton on loan and made the move permanent that summer. He has since established himself as a solid Premier League full-back, making 62 apperances over his two seasons as a full-time Saint.
Were he born in any other generation, the 24-year-old may well be pushing for a spot in England’s senior side.
RM: Kieran Dowell (Sheyi Ojo, 62)
Another of the six squad members who also won the European Under-17 Championship in 2014, and another of five Everton players in this World Cup-winning squad.
But Dowell struggled to fit into the Toffees first-team set-up after flying home and, after four spells away on loan, moved permanently to Norwich City in the summer of 2020. He scored five goals as the Canaries were promoted straight back to the top flight but played just seven times in the Premier League.
Liverpool’s Ojo, meanwhile, is another serial loanee and most recently spent the 2021-22 campaign at Millwall.
CM: Josh Onomah
After threatening to break through at Spurs only to be loaned out to Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday, Onomah joined Fulham on a permanent basis as part of the deal that saw Ryan Sessegnon move in the opposite direction.
The attacking midfielder helped Aston Villa to the play-off final in 2017-18, but it wasn’t enough to make Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror’s 2014 prediction come true. But he did at least help Fulham win promotions in 2020 and 2022.
CM: Lewis Cook
The captain of the side and another one to progress from the Under-17 victory in 2014, Cook has battled some serious injury issues and saw his 2020-21 season ended by a second cruciate ligament rupture. He came back in October 2021, however, and played 28 games as Bournemouth sealed promotion.
He won his first, and to date only, senior cap as a substitute against Italy in 2018, and the former Leeds United man certainly won’t have given up hope of a return to Gareth Southgate’s set-up just yet.
LM: Ademola Lookman
Having already made 49 appearances for Charlton, Lookman joined Everton in January 2017 just three months after turning 19.
Despite occasional moments of promise, the forward failed to establish himself on Merseyside and made the eye-catching move to RB Leipzig, having impressed on loan at the Bundesliga outfit.
That permanent move didn’t work as planned though and Lookman’s since been sent on loan twice, most recently to Leicester City.
ST: Dominic Solanke
Solanke had already agreed to join Liverpool from Chelsea when he helped England win the Under-20 World Cup, collecting the Golden Ball as player of the tournament.
Since then he has made his senior England debut and earned a £19million move to Bournemouth, but seriously underwhelmed in the top flight for the Cherries.
The drop into the Championship did him a world of good, however, as banged in 29 league goals in their 2021-22 promotion campaign. If it hadn’t been for Aleksandr Mitrovic’s Fulham heroics, Solanke might have made more headlines.
ST: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 76)
He scored the winner in the final in 2017 and will be hoping to do the same for the Three Lions at the big boys’ World Cup later this year as Harry Kane’s understudy.
He’ll have to recover his 2020-21 form and do so quickly if he wants a place in the squad though. After scoring 16 goals in 33 games for Everton in 2020-21, he only managed five in his most recent campaign, with injuries restricting his progress.
For a while, Maitland-Niles looked like being the next big thing to graduate from Arsenal’s academy, but he appears to be on his way out of the Emirates. He spent the second half of last season out at Roma and helped them to the Europa Conference League title, but a place in Mikel Arteta’s first team looks a long way away.