With Morgan Gibbs-White marking his first start in the Premier League with an inspired performance against Chelsea, it is time to look at the strides being made by England’s 2017 U17 World Cup-winning midfield.
England’s U17 World Cup Winners Make Their Mark
Morgan Gibbs-White – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Gibbs-White became the first member of the victorious U17 team to start a game in the Premier League, ahead of some of the other comparatively more high-profile stars, Callum Hudson-Odoi at Chelsea and Phil Foden at Manchester City. The 18-year old put in a fantastic display against Maurizio Sarri’s men this week, assisting the opener for Raul Jimenez. Riding a challenge from Cesc Fabregas, the youngster glided across the field before playing a perfectly-weighted pass for his Mexican teammate to strike home the equaliser. In doing so, he became the youngest player to notch an assist in the Premier League since 1999.
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo had this to say about the starlet after his performance: “He [Gibbs-White] is in one of the best generations of English players in a long time. You have Phil Foden, he’s a world champion too. He [Gibbs-White] is not an example, he’s the reality – of the fantastic job the national team of England are doing. It is amazing what they are producing.”
The versatile midfielder joined Wolves at the age of eight, making his first-team debut in January 2017 at the age of just 16. He scored the equalizer in October last year when England came from 2-0 down to beat Spain U-17 5-2 in the U17 World Cup final. He also netted in the country’s quarter-final win over the USA in the tournament hosted by India.
Callum Hudson-Odoi – Chelsea
A typical modern-day winger, Hudson-Odoi loves to cut inside while also being capable of playing on either wing. His dribbling style reminds a lot of Manchester United’s Anthony Martial at his best while his physique resembles a young Thierry Henry.
The still 18-year-old earned plaudits after starring in Chelsea’s 4-0 rout of PAOK Salonika in the Europa League last week. Playing the whole 90 minutes, he created one and scored one. Hudson-Odoi also scored in the U17 World Cup final against Spain last year and has had a highly successful run with Chelsea youth teams, winning three trophies.
With Bayern Munich and Paris-Saint Germain reportedly interested, Callum Hudson-Odoi certainly has the natural quality to make it. It will be interesting to see whether he has the consistency and work-ethic to match that talent in the long-run.
Phil Foden – Manchester City
Arguably the crown jewel of England’s youth right now and certainly the star of the U17 World Cup winning team. With Pep Guardiola’s nurturing arm around his shoulder, the sky certainly seems to be the limit for young 18-year-old Phil Foden.
Interest from Borussia Dortmund, where a certain Jadon Sancho is also making his name, RB Leipzig and PSG are being reported in Foden. The Manchester City playmaker scored twice in that final win over Spain and certainly appears to be the most hyped English teenager since Wayne Rooney.
The most high-profile members of the remaining members of England’s U17 World Cup winning team are Rhian Brewster, Johnathan Panzo, Emile Smith-Rowe and Angel Gomes.
Brewster finished as the Golden Boot winner with eight goals at the U17 World Cup in India. However, the Liverpool man is currently recovering from a serious ankle injury which has greatly hindered his development in the last 12 months. Panzo moved to France from Chelsea this past summer and should be making his Ligue 1 debut for Monaco any game now. Emile Smith-Rowe is another looking to take his chances, as he has already scored three goals in six cup games this season for Arsenal, though a Premier League bow still eludes him. Angel Gomes made his Manchester United debut with a two-minute cameo at Yeovil Town in the FA Cup last season, though he still awaits another chance under Jose Mourinho.