'This is for Ugo and everyone at Spurs' - World Cup winners Josh and Kyle from South Korea
12 June 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
Thoughts of 'home' weren't far away as Josh Onomah and Kyle Walker-Peters celebrated an historic World Cup win for England Under-20s in South Korea on Sunday.
Our Academy graduates, both 20, started and played a full shift as the Young Lions beat Venezuela 1-0 to lift the FIFA U20 World Cup in Suwon. Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the only goal of the final in the 35th minute. Josh rattled the woodwork in the second half and Newcastle's Freddie Woodman secured victory with a dramatic penalty save.
It was England's first win on the global stage since the World Cup win of 1966.
It was a personal triumph for the Spurs pair - Josh recovered from the disappointment of a red card in the quarter-final against Mexico and sitting out the semi-final win against Italy to star in the final while Kyle didn't start the first two group games but broke into the team and his performances made sure he stayed there for the rest of the tournament.
Speaking to us from South Korea, the bond between the Spurs team-mates is clear. "I love him to bits, we've been working for
moments like this since we were knee high and to share it with him is a dream come true," said Josh of Kyle.
"I've played with Josh since we were 10 and this is extra special," added Kyle.
And then, of course, memories our Under-23 coach Ugo Ehiougu, whose passing in April was a tragedy that hit both players and everyone at the Club so hard. "This is for Ugo and everyone back at Spurs," stated Josh.
Here's what they had to say...
What went through your minds at the final whistle? What a moment for you both!
Josh: "It was an unbelievable feeling, lost for words. It's something you dream of as a kid. Full credit to the players and staff and all the support back home for getting us here. It still hasn't sunk in but it was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Kyle: "It was absolutely incredible, I don't know where I got the energy from to run over to the bench and celebrate! I was overwhelmed with joy"
Below: Kyle in action against Venezuela
How about the game itself. You looked pretty much in control apart from the penalty save. How did you feel when Freddie Woodman saved that spot-kick? And what about your shot that hit the crossbar, Josh?
Josh: "Massive credit to Venezuela, they gave us a great challenge, but we dug deep and grafted until the end. That's what our team is about, we find another edge and keep fighting. It was a great save from Freddie, he's a great leader in our team and kept us in it. What a hero! And my shot... when I saw it hit the bar I was gutted I couldn't put the team further ahead and score in the World Cup Final. But all that matters is we still won and I couldn't be happier."
Kyle: "I thought we controlled the game for the majority. When Woodman saved the penalty I was so happy I wanted to run over
and hug him, however, the job wasn't done and we had to stay focused."
Josh, how did you deal with the disappointment of the red card in the quarter-final?
Josh: "When it (the second yellow card) happened I was so confused because I had possession of the ball! It hadn't sunk in until I watched the boys in the semi-final, but that is what football is about. You get ups and downs and have to bounce back and come back stronger. Thanks to my manager as well for playing me in the final after the team did well in the semis. I tried not to dwell on it too much and concentrate on the final instead."
Below: Josh at the final whistle
And Kyle, what have you learned about yourself over the course of the tournament?
Kyle: "I've learned that I'm versatile and I'm proud of myself proving I can play on either side as a full-back, which is always a good thing to have. Not only that, but I thought I performed well in the position!"
There is a lovely photo of the two of you together after the final (above). What did you think of each other's performances in the tournament?
Josh: "My brother Kyle! I love him to bits. We've been working for moments like this since we were knee high and to share this moment with him is a dream come true. This is for Ugo (Ehiogu, our former U23 coach who sadly passed away in April) and everyone back at Spurs. Kyle earned his place in the team after not starting the first two games. I've always had confidence in him, he's so reliable in and out of possession. Credit to him for his performances throughout the tournament."
Kyle: "Josh has been very good this tournament, showing his strength and power in the middle of the pitch. To bounce back from an unfortunate red card and then perform the way he did in the final was incredible from him and shows his mental strength. Achieving this together is extra special. I've played with Josh since I was 10 and never imagined anything like this, so it's very special!"
Below: The team lift the trophy
Finally, how much are you looking forward to next season here at Spurs?
Josh: "This winning feeling is only going to push me to work harder than ever and I can't wait to get back into pre-season with the gaffer and run my socks off. I have a big chance with this gaffer and I need to take any opportunities given to me. Also, thanks to the fans and staff for their messages and support, we really appreciate it!"
Kyle: "I'm extremely excited for next season, especially after this tournament. I'll go into it with extra confidence, work hard and hope to get an opportunity to help the team."