The men’s England international football team is in the best place it has been for many, many years right now.
After reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, Gareth Southgate’s side went one better at Euro 2020 and secured a place in the final at Wembley Stadium.
And they came agonisingly close to winning a first major trophy since 1966, with Italy eventually prevailing in a penalty shootout thanks to Bukayo Saka’s miss.
But despite that heartbreak, there’s still huge cause for optimism with regards to England, especially when you remember how many youngsters are already key members of the squad.
Saka, Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Reece James and many more are already showcasing their enormous talent on the international stage.
However, it’s important to remember that not every youngster tipped to be an England star will end up fulfilling that prophecy.
Back in January 2016, the Telegraph named what they believed was the best XI made up of teenage English players and at the time, you’d have sworn most of them would be mainstays in the Three Lions’ senior setup by 2022.
But that certainly hasn’t been the case, with just one member of the lineup being selected by Southgate for the country’s Euro 2020 squad.
So, let’s take a look what’s happened to the Telegraph’s teenage XI…
GK – Freddie Woodman, 24
Woodman has played for England at every level from U16 to U21, but is yet to earn a senior call-up. He’s been a Newcastle player since 2014, although the majority of his domestic appearances have come in various loan spells at the likes of Hartlepool, Crawley, Kilmarnock and Swansea. Woodman has at least played four Premier League games for the Magpies this season, though.
DEF – Joe Gomez, 24
Had Gomez not been struck down by a serious knee injury in 2020, he’d almost certainly be a key player for both England and Liverpool right now. Sadly, the former Charlton defender is struggling for game time at club level, which has unsurprisingly resulted in him falling out of favour with Southgate.
DEF – Reece Oxford, 23
Oxford burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old at West Ham, but quickly faded into obscurity. The versatile defender has rebuilt his career out in Germany, though. Oxford is now a key man for FC Augsburg after joining the club permanently in 2019, scoring two goals in 14 Bundesliga appearances this season.
DEF – Brendan Galloway, 25
The ex-Everton full-back is now with League One outfit Plymouth Argyle after a short spell at Luton Town. Interestingly, Galloway has now switched international allegiance to Zimbabwe, the country of his birth, and he’s played two games for the African nation – although the defender will miss the 2021 AFCON through injury.
DEF – Ben Chilwell, 25
The only member of the XI who made England’s Euro 2020 squad. Chilwell was exceptional for Chelsea this season before picking up a serious knee injury and it’s clear that the left-back has a huge future with both the Blues and on the international stage.
MID – Lewis Cook, 24
Injuries have really taken their toll on Cook in recent years and Bournemouth – where he’s been since 2016 – have never really seen the best of him as a result. The all-action midfielder has one England cap to his name from March 2018, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll add to that in the remainder of his professional career.
MID – Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 25
Loftus-Cheek was part of England’s 2018 World Cup squad, however, he hasn’t played for the Three Lions since November of that year. The silky midfielder has been decent in patches with Chelsea this season, though, so don’t rule out an international comeback by him just yet.
MID – Dele Alli, 25
Alli’s decline in recent years has been sad to see. For a while, he was a free-scoring midfielder at Tottenham and an England regular, even scoring in the 2018 World Cup quarter-final versus Sweden. Now, Alli is a bit-part player at Spurs and as far away from Southgate’s side as he’s ever been.
FWD – Patrick Roberts, 24
Roberts was tipped for great things when he joined Manchester City in 2015, but he’s now on loan at League One outfit Sunderland. The forward has also had temporary stints at the likes of Celtic, Girona, Norwich, Troyes, Middlesbrough and Derby in recent years. His enormous potential is currently unfulfilled.
FWD – Sheyi Ojo, 24
Ojo is still a Liverpool player, but like many others in this XI, he’s spent most of the past few years out on loan. The talented winger is currently with Millwall, having previously spent time at Wigan, Wolves, Fulham, Reims, Rangers and Cardiff. A permanent move away from Anfield surely beckons in the near future.
FWD – Demarai Gray, 25
After a tough few years at Leicester and Bayer Leverkusen, Gray is back lighting up the Premier League at Everton. The former Birmingham man has been arguably the Toffees’ best player in 2021/22, scoring five goals in 17 league matches. Who knows, he may even earn an England call-up in 2022.