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England’s 2017 U-17 World Cup winning squad – who will be next to make their senior debut?

For all the furore and fanfare surrounding the England football team amid Euro 2020  and the World Cup in Russia three years ago, 2017 will go down as the year the next generation of national talent burst into the worldwide spotlight. 

First, the Under-20s were crowned world champions, then the Under-17s stormed to an exhilarating triumph of their own in India. Six of the U20s have since graduated to the senior international side – and now that number is five for the U17s after Emile Smith Rowe and Conor Gallagher were picked by Gareth Southgate this week. 

Phil Foden, who won the Player of the Tournament award in 2017, is a star for Manchester City and the senior side nowadays, with Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi also winning three caps since 2019, although he has caused controversy in recent months by refusing call-ups to the U21s. 

Jadon Sancho, meanwhile, became a star for Borussia Dortmund, although he has hit a rocky patch since his Euro 2020 final penalty shootout miss and his £73million move to Manchester United.

It begs the question though: what are the rest of them up to? Glory at such a young age can, after all, be both a blessing and a curse. 

Emile Smith Rowe did too, playing against both Albania and San Marino, scoring in the 10-0 win on Monday

Conor Gallagher and Emile Smith Rowe made their England senior debuts in the past week

That means that five of the triumphant England U-17 side of 2017, who won the World Cup in India (pictured), have now made their debuts for the senior international side

That means that five of the triumphant England U-17 side of 2017, who won the World Cup in India (pictured), have now made their debuts for the senior international side

Four years on, the most eye-catching turn of events comes with the No 1, Curtis Anderson, who was in the youth system at Manchester City at the time. 

A hero in the last-16 penalty shoot-out triumph against Japan, and the keeper for all but one of the matches, Anderson has endured a fall down the leagues.  

Without making a senior appearance, Anderson made a shock move to second-tier North American side Charlotte Independence in March 2019, where he plied his trade for just five months before his contract was mutually terminated. 

After a fallback move to Wycombe Wanderers in 2020, Anderson has had spells on loan at Southern League Premier Division South side Walton Casuals – in the seventh tier of English football – and National League South club Eastbourne Borough for a brief period this season. 

Curtis Anderson was the hero in the last-16 penalty shootout triumph against Japan

Yet after loan moves to non-League football, he is back at Wycombe as their fourth-choice keeper

Curtis Anderson was England’s No 1 in 2017 but he is now fourth-choice at Wycombe

Following just five appearances, including an own goal against Dulwich Hamlet, the 21-year-old is now back at Wycombe, where he is the No 4 keeper. 

Fascinatingly, the other two keepers in that England U17 squad look to be carving out careers in the EFL. Josef Bursik is now the Stoke No 1 (and England Under-21s No 1 for that matter) after six previous loan spells, while Billy Crelin is at Fleetwood after loan spells at the likes of FC United of Manchester. 

Other interesting developments involve those plying their trade abroad, most notably perhaps that of Danny Loader at FC Porto. 

A surprise buy from Reading in 2020, the forward has featured mostly for the B team. Yet on his first-team debut last month, as a late substitute against Boavista, he scored in stoppage-time – a moment sure to live long in the memory. 

Danny Loader (left) celebrates after scoring on his Porto debut against Boavista last month

Danny Loader (left) celebrates after scoring on his Porto debut against Boavista last month 

Jonathan Panzo, a defender who started in the final win against Spain, is also developing beyond British shores. 

After moving to Monaco from Chelsea in 2018 – he made three appearances for the principality – he joined Ligue 1 side Dijon permanently in 2020 where he is now a regular. 

An England senior call-up down the line is not beyond the realms of possibility for Panzo. 

Nor is it for fellow defender Marc Guehi, who was captain in the sub-continent four years ago. The Crystal Palace defender, and current England Under-21s captain, is currently the most likely to be the next cab off the rank for this batch of players. 

He joined in the summer for £18m from Chelsea – where he made two solitary appearances in 2019 – after an impressive season on loan at Swansea. 

Marc Guehi has impressed since his £18m move to Crystal Palace and could get a call-up soon

Marc Guehi has impressed since his £18m move to Crystal Palace and could get a call-up soon 

Phil Foden has made it to the very top

Jadon Sancho's Euro 2020 final penalty shootout miss was a heartbreaking setback after a meteoric rise

Phil Foden (left) and Jadon Sancho (right, with Gareth Southgate) have made it to the very top, although Sancho’s Euro 2020 final penalty shootout miss was a heartbreaking setback

Guehi has been one of Palace’s shining lights in a team who have started the season brightly – much to many’s surprise – under Patrick Vieira. 

The Frenchman himself recently backed Guehi to make his international debut soon for England, despite also being eligible for Ivory Coast, saying: ‘He really wants to fulfil his potential and his work ethic and concentration is really good. This is why I believe he has the attributes to be one day an international player.’ 

Elsewhere, the other three standout stars from that core 2017 group have all developed their careers with mixed results. 

Angel Gomes is the third man playing abroad permanently at the moment, following his departure from Manchester United for Lille last year. 

After a season on loan at Boavista, he is back at the French club and is a regular for last season’s Ligue 1 champions. Again, with European football on offer too, the opportunity is very much there for Gomes to catch Southgate’s eye. 

Angel Gomes (right), after leaving Manchester United last year, is now a regular for Lille

Angel Gomes (right), after leaving Manchester United last year, is now a regular for Lille 

Morgan Gibbs-White has started this season brightly on loan at Sheffield United from Wolves

Morgan Gibbs-White has started this season brightly on loan at Sheffield United from Wolves 

Morgan Gibbs-White, who scored in the 2017 final, scored his first Premier League goal for Wolves in May against Brighton, and is now on loan at Sheffield United in the Championship, where he has scored four in 11 games. He’ll be hoping for a regular shot in the near future to prove his worth in the top flight. 

Rhian Brewster won the golden boot for the U-17's in their 2017 World Cup triumph and was expected to push on for Liverpool

Rhian Brewster won the golden boot for the U-17’s in their 2017 World Cup triumph and was expected to push on for Liverpool 

However, the biggest disappointment – so far – has been that of Rhian Brewster, who scored a hat-trick in the final and finished as the tournament’s top scorer with eight goals. 

After picking up a Champions League winner’s medal and making four appearances at Liverpool, he moved for an expensive £23.5m in October 2020 to Bramall Lane, with Chris Wilder pinning his hopes on the young forward’s goalscoring prowess at youth-team level. 

But to describe the forward’s time at Sheffield United thus far as underwhelming would be an understatement. In 30 appearances in all competitions last season, he did not find the back of the net once. 

With his confidence at an all-time low, he is yet to fare much better so far this season, scoring just twice in 10 games. 

However, Brewster has endured a nightmare start at Bramall Lane - but he has time on his side

However, Brewster has endured a nightmare start at Bramall Lane – but he has time on his side 

There’s still time, of course, for Brewster to grow and mature his game. Nonetheless, the chances of Jurgen Klopp enacting a £40m buy-back clause before it expires in 2023 is currently next to nil.  

As for the rest, four players – Steven Sessegnon (Fulham)Joel Latibeaudiere (Swansea)Tashan Oakley-Boothe (Stoke) and Lewis Gibson (Sheffield Wendesday, on loan from Everton) – are currently at clubs in the Championship with varying degrees of game-time and defender TJ Eyoma is at Lincoln City in League One.

Finally, both George McEachran and Nya Kirby are regulars for the Under-23 sides at Chelsea and Palace respectively, and are in need of regular first-team football in the next year or so. 

All in all, five out of 23 have made their senior international bows by the age of 21, with a sixth potentially down the line in Guehi. Not half bad, as this generation look to match their World Cup triumph of four years ago at next year’s tournament proper in Qatar. 

Whether it be in 2022 or beyond, it’s crucial English football does indeed capitalise on this special group of young stars.  

Callum Hudson-Odoi has caused recent controversy, after making his full England bow in 2019

Callum Hudson-Odoi has caused recent controversy, after making his full England bow in 2019

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