What happened to the England Under 21 XI that reached the Euro 2009 final?


It's no secret that England football is moving in the right direction. 

A World Cup semi-final appearance in 2018 proved just that and until Friday's defeat to the Czech Republic, the Three Lions were unbeaten for a decade in qualifying fixtures. 

Part of the success is down to a new generation of players breaking through and this positive movement has been a long time coming. 

Way back in 2009, England's Under 21s side reached the final of the U21s European Championships. 

They lost to Germany and the likes of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil that day - and many of those went on to win the World Cup in 2014.

But what happened to the Young Lions that fell to a 4-0 defeat against Die Mannschaft? Did they go on to break into the senior national side like many of their opponents? Let's take a look:

Scott Loach - Goalkeeper

Loach played in goal that day because number one goalkeeper Joe Hart was suspended. At the time he was turning out for Watford but has never quite made it to the top.

He's had spells with Ipswich, Rotherham, Hartlepool and now playing for National League side Barnet.

Loach never quite made it

Hart, on the other hand, went on to make 70 appearances for England while playing at two World Cups and two European Championships.

Martin Cranie - Right-back

Cranie made his Premier League debut at 17 with Southampton but has since fallen out of the top division, playing for the likes of Portsmouth, Barnsley, Huddersfield and Sheffield United.

He's now in the Championship with Luton. 

Martin Cranie played a few times in the PL

Micah Richards - Centre-back

Richards did go on to have a successful club career, winning the Premier League and FA Cup while making 250 appearances for Manchester City.

He moved to Aston Villa a few years ago but injuries cut his career short and the defender was forced to retire in 2019.

Nedum Onuoha - Centre-back

Onouha was teammates with Richards at City and he made his first-team debut in 2004 at just 17. But he failed to make a real impact in Manchester and left in 2012.

Since then, he was at QPR for six years before moving to Major League Soccer in 2018, where he now plays for Real Salt Lake.  

Onuoha has come up against Zlatan in the MLS

Kieran Gibbs - Left-back

Gibbs had a decent career at the top level, spending nine years at Arsenal between 2007 and 2016. During that time he featured in numerous Premier League and Champions League games.

He's won just 10 caps for England though and left the Gunners for West Brom, where he still plays. 

Fabrice Muamba - Midfielder 

Muamba's promising career came to a heartbreaking end in 2012 after he suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup tie. 

That shocking moment forced him to retire a few months later, but he has since gone on to earn a  journalism degree and has worked with ITV and BT Sport. 

Fabrice Muamba has gone on to work as a journalist

Lee Cattermole - Midfielder 

Cattermole made 169 Premier League appearances and spent a decade in the top flight but never actually won a senior England cap.

He spent most of his time trying to avoid relegation with Middlesbrough, Wigan and Sunderland.

He was with the latter until earlier this year, having suffered back-to-back relegations to League One. Now he turns out for Dutch side VVV-Venlo. 

Mark Noble - Midfielder 

Noble captain England's U21 side back in 2009, but like Cattermole, he never went on to make a senior appearance. 

He has though, made 352 Premier League appearances for West Ham, where he's played his entire career. The midfielder will likely retire there, too. 

Noble still captains West Ham

James Milner - Right-wing

Milner is perhaps the most successful player in the U21 side. He went on to make his England debut the same year and played 61 times at senior level, including in the World Cup and Euros. 

He retired from international football in 2016 but continues to impress for Liverpool, winning the Champions League last season and he's now chasing a Premier League title.

Adam Johnson - Left-wing

The less said about Johnson the better. He was sentenced to six years in prison back in 2016 but was released earlier this year. 

In terms of football, he played for Middlesbrough, Man City and Sunderland. He won 12 senior caps and scored two goals. 

Theo Walcott - Centre-forward

Walcott did have an impressive England career that began before he played in the U21 tournament. 

He won 47 caps and played in two World Cups. At club level, the forward spent many years at Arsenal before moving to Everton for £20 million in 2018 and he still plays on Merseyside. 

England's U21 team that day

There we have it - England's 'Golden Generation' that never quite was. 

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