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Ben on the spot

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Spurs starlet Ben Bowditch will taste the big time on Thursday when England cross swords with France in the European Under-16 Championship semi-finals.

The match takes place at St James' Park, Newcastle, kicks off at 6.30pm and will be screened on British Eurosport.

Ben and his team-mates held their collective nerve on Sunday as the quarter-final against Germany at Middlesbrough entered a penalty shoot-out after the game finished 1-1 after 80 minutes.

Millwall's highly-rated Cherno Samba handed England a deserved lead 15 minutes from time, but the Germans hit back straight away and Alexander Laas levelled the scores and dictated that the match would be decided by the spot-kick lottery which has served German sides so well in the past.

Not this time. England scored with all five kicks, while the Germans missed their first and went on to endure the heartbreak that goes with losing a match in this fashion. Bowditch netted England's fourth kick.

Told of the German demise, Steffen Freund was shocked on Monday, saying: "I can't believe Germany lost to England on penalties. What's happening?"

So it's France next up for England and, should they be sucessful, Spain or Croatia beckon in the final to be staged at Sunderland's Stadium of Light on Sunday at 3pm.

England seniors coach Sven Goran Eriksson had nothing but praise for England's promising crop of youngsters.

"I'm extremely proud of the under-16s' achievement in reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Championship.

"This is historically an extremely tough competition and shows that the youngsters have a good aptitude for tournament football. They face a tough challenge against France and everyone is aware of the very good youth system that the French have in place. It has seen the fruits of its success at senior level.

"However, we in England are also building for the future. A great deal of effort and investment has gone into the youth development programme, which hopefully can allow us to also have success with the senior team.

"The under-16s have already shown they have great mental strength in beating Germany on penalties in the quarter-finals. I am aware of the famous penalty shoot-outs between the two countries at the 1990 World Cup semi-finals and during Euro 96.

"It gave me great pleasure to see our youngsters scoring all five penalties in Sunday's shoot-out in such a confident manner. "While I would be delighted to see England go on and win the tournament, everyone connected with the team can already be proud of their achievement in reaching this stage."