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Published 01 June 2023 4 min read
Men's Elite League Squad

England MU20s' Ian Foster and Harvey Vale on 'a game of fine margins'

Written by:

Nicholas Veevers

Young Lions head coach and captain reflect after their U20 World Cup exit at the hands of Italy in Argentina

England men’s under-20s saw their FIFA U20 World Cup campaign brought to a cruel end, as they suffered a late defeat against Italy in La Plata.

It looked as though the Young Lions and Azzurrini were set for extra time in their round of 16 knockout clash, with the scores level at 1-1 going into the later stages.

But a controversial decision to award a penalty to Italy after a handball against Jarell Quansah, with little over five minutes of play remaining, consigned Ian Foster’s team to defeat and sent them on their way home from South America.

However, Foster believes the whole World Cup experience and U19 EURO success last term will form a key experience and learning for his squad, as they progress into the next stage of their careers.

“I’m proud of the players,” said Foster. “I thought it was a really tight game, a game of fine margins and unfortunately it’s come down to a decision and it’s not gone our way.

“That’s our first defeat in 20-odd games and there’s a lot of competitive games in that, including European Championship qualifiers, the U19 EUROs and then World Cup games.

“We’ll take the experience [from the World Cup] because our job as football development coaches in the pathway is to prepare our players for what’s to come at senior level and they’ve had a wonderful experience here in Argentina.
Young Lions captain Harvey Vale looks to drive his team on against Italy
Young Lions captain Harvey Vale looks to drive his team on against Italy
“Every time we’ve played, we’ve been like the away team and the crowd has been right behind the other team and that’s been a really good education for us.

“So we take away a lot of positives from the competition but we’re just disappointed it’s ended the way it has.

“I’ve told them how proud of them I am, it’s a wonderful group of players that we’ve had now for two years and we’ve had a lot of wonderful memories including this World Cup.

“Of course it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but we’ll congratulate Italy and wish them well."

Young Lions captain and Chelsea midfielder Harvey Vale also shared his thoughts on the game, as the MU20s age group now move up into the MU21s for their new U21 EURO campaign next season.

“We’re very disappointed, it’s our first defeat in 21 games as a group, so we’ve come very far,” said Vale.

“We just weren’t at it on the day and I thought Italy were the better team but that’s football.

“Sometimes decisions go our way, sometimes decisions go their way and that’s life. We’ll get on with it, pick ourselves up and go again.

“The journey we’ve all been on together and the way we’ve bonded, I don’t think we’ll ever feel something like that in our lives again.”