Striker Robert Hall had a big hand in helping England’s under 19s through to the European Championship semi-finals on Monday night.
The West Ham teen, who lives in Aylesbury, started for the Young Lions as they beat France 2-1 in Tallinn, Estonia.
England were 2-1 up against the group leaders at half-time thanks to goals from John Lundstram and Harry Kane. And Hall had a big hand in England’s second as his corner was punched out by the French keeper but only as far as Kane, who volleyed into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
With Hall replaced in the 69th-minute, France continued to fight hard but Noel Blake’s side stood firm to win the group ahead of their opponents, earning a more favourable semi-final tie against Greece on Thursday in the process while France must play Spain.
Hall, who had a productive loan spell at Oxford United last season and whose brother Matt plays for Thame United, has already won the U17 Euro Championships alongside many of his current U19 teammates.
But boss Blake says there will be no room for complacency.
“I’ve said many times before, when you qualify for the European Finals at this level, you get some very good teams here,” he told thefa.com on Tuesday.
“Greece did very well in last year’s Finals in Romania and I think they have five or six boys from that squad here this time, so they are a strong side. They are a decent team technically as well, so there’s no easy games.
“We know we are in for a tough game, probably harder than this match today. We can’t turn up and think that because it’s Greece and not Spain or France, it will be easier.”
With 10 members of this squad having already won the European Championship at U17 level two years ago, Blake knows there is experience at the business end of a tournament within his ranks but is urging all of the players to treat this as a completely new challenge now.
“What happened at U17 level is in the past now, but the lads have been in this situation before so they’ve had that experience of what semi-finals are about,” he added.
“So it’s nothing new for them. I said to the players before the game, this was like a quarter-final. To get to the semi-final, you have to win the game, for want of a professional word.
“It’s the same again on Thursday now.”