England head into the Under-17 World Cup with Phil Foden’s words for inspiration.
The Young Lions are aiming to become just the third England side to win a World Cup.
Six years ago, Manchester City’s Foden was part of the squad which included Conor Gallagher, Jadon Sancho and Morgan Gibbs-White to lift the World Cup in India. He scored twice in a 5-2 final win over Spain and won player of the tournament.
Now he is part of a montage which includes the Under-17 victory and this summer’s Under-21 Euro 2023 triumph, which the current crop have been shown across their qualification campaign.
“We heard from players like Phil, his recollections of that tournament in 2017, and how he felt it helped and developed him on his journey,” boss Ryan Garry tells the PA news agency from England’s base in Jakarta.
“It’s a huge achievement winning the World Cup at any level. The fantastic work done by the players and staff is a real reference point, not just for this age group but for a lot of people at St. George’s Park.
“You’re never going to be too far away from hearing or speaking about success. That age group have then gone on to repeat their success in the Euros this summer.
“It’s something our group aspires to do. The message was about being together.”
England also face Iran on Tuesday and defending champions Brazil next Friday in Group C.
The squad includes Ethan Nwaneri, who became Arsenal’s and the Premier League’s youngest ever player when he made his debut aged 15 and 181 days in 2022, Chelsea’s Ted Curd, on loan at Hashtag United, and Chris Rigg who scored on his Sunderland debut in September.
For Garry, it is the latest step in his own coaching career after he was forced to retire at 27 due to a nerve issue in his leg, related to several injuries including a broken leg and shin splints.
The former defender is an Invincible, even if he will not class himself as one, after making his only Arsenal start in the 6-1 win at Southampton which kicked off the Gunners’ 49-game unbeaten run in 2003.
After retirement, following four years and 86 games at Bournemouth, he coached at Poole College and Wimborne Town while working with the Cherries first-team under Eddie Howe before returning to Arsenal’s academy in 2013.
“I wouldn’t say there was a hole to fill. For any person who has to retire at a young age there’s a period of adjustment and I was very lucky I was coaching before I had to retire,” he says, having worked with an 11-year-old Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe when he was in his early teens.
“My passion has continued, but just down a different route. You have aspirations as a player and then when you’re a coach, you see it slightly differently.”