England’s hopes of winning an international trophy for the first time since 1966 have been backed by an unlikely source – Joachim Low.
Germany’s World Cup-winning coach in 2014 was among a who’s who list of international coaches at a FIFA Football Conference in London on Sunday.
Asked what he thought of the growing number of young English players in the Bundesliga – stars such as Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson, on loan at Hoffenheim – Low said it was no surprise that German clubs were looking at Premier League academies.
“We know, for the last three or four years especially, the young English players are getting better and better,” the 58-year-old said.
“They have really very good educations and the federation here has changed its focus on the young players a little bit.
“When I speak to my youth-team coaches everyone says ‘England Under-15, Under-17, Under-19, they have very strong players, they are really strong one on one, they are very fast’.
“So I think the English team will be very good in the coming years. They have changed something for the better.”
Hoffenheim and Dortmund drew 1-1 on Saturday, with former Manchester City star Sancho coming off the bench in the second half. Nelson was an unused substitute but both 18-year-olds made their Champions League debuts for their clubs last week.
They are far from alone, though, in moving to Germany, as Denzeil Boadu, another City academy graduate, is also at Dortmund, while England youth internationals Keanan Bennetts and Mandela Egbo both signed for Borussia Monchengladbach earlier this year.
There have also been several successful loan spells, with Everton’s Ademola Lookman scoring five goals in 11 Bundesliga appearances for RB Leipzig, West Ham’s Reece Oxford enjoying two stints with Monchengladbach and Liverpool’s Ryan Kent spending half a season with Freiburg.
After winning the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups in 2017, England’s stock in global football was already rising before this summer’s run to the last four of the senior World Cup.
And, with opportunities for first-team football getting harder to come by in the Premier League, Bundesliga clubs have been the quickest to tap into this crop of emerging English talent’s desire for playing time.
The irony that Germany might be part of the solution to England’s international trophy drought will not be lost on Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate, who has repeatedly pointed out how important it is that talented youngsters must be given chances to develop.
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