The future of English football appears to be bright, with three of the youth teams winning tournaments this summer. While the U21 side lost in the semi-finals of their European Championships, England won the U20 World Cup and the Toulon Tournament earlier this summer.
It got even better this weekend, as the England U19 squad triumphed in the final of their European Championships over Portugal with a 2-1 victory. It remains to be seen how many of that squad will go on to make successful careers for themselves as history has shown it is not always a straightforward path.
In honour of their win, we look back at the 2010 England U19 side who reached the semi-finals of the European Championships. They lost to a Spain side including Marc Bartra, Thiago Alcantara and Oriol Romeu. Here’s how England’s class of 2010 have got on since, with the side including a few familiar faces.
1. GK – Declan Rudd
In goal that day for the England U19 side was Declan Rudd, and in comparison to the rest of his teammates he’s done pretty well for himself ever since.
Rudd spent much of his early career at Norwich having risen through their youth ranks, and in August 2011 he got his first taste of Premier League football as he came off the bench to watch Frank Lampard smash a penalty past him.
After nine years at Norwich, Rudd had successful loan spells at Preston North End and this season at Charlton as he featured heavily for both.
At the start of this summer, Rudd signed a permanent deal for Preston North End as he looks to recreate the glory of his England U19 days.
2. RB – Nathaniel Clyne
If there is to be one success story – and in reality there really only is one – from this England U19 side, it is Nathaniel Clyne.
Clyne was at Crystal Palace from the age of eight and made over a hundred appearances for the club as a senior player.
In 2012, Clyne signed for Southampton and after an excellent three years at St Mary’s he joined most of his team-mates in moving on to Liverpool where he has been first-choice at right-back ever since.
Even more rarely for that 2010 U19 side, Clyne has gone on to be capped for England at a senior level and he has fourteen of the fifteen total senior caps mustered together by the U19 side.
3. CB – Josh Thompson
Josh Thompson had already attracted the attention of many top clubs before the tournament in 2010, playing for Celtic and being named Young Player of the Year for the 2009/2010 season.
However, he soon fell into a cycle of loan moves as he failed to settle at a club. In 2012 alone, he found himself at Peterborough, Chesterfield, Portsmouth and Colchester.
Thompson signed for Southport in 2015 and made fifty-six appearances for the club in a two-year spell. After Southport’s relegation last season, Thompson left the club and signed for Macclesfield Town this summer.
4. CB – Steven Caulker
Steven Caulker started every game of the U19 Euros, missing only a couple of minutes in the whole tournament as he formed a partnership with Matty James at the heart of defence. He has gone on to make one solitary appearance for the senior England side, scoring against Sweden in a friendly.
Officially he was a Tottenham player from 2009-2013 but he was at Yeovil Town, Bristol City and Swansea during this period as he rarely found himself anywhere near north London.
He signed for Cardiff and played every single minute of the 2013/14 season as the club were relegated, and Caulker soon jumped ship to Queens Park Rangers. After a season at QPR, loan spells at Southampton and Liverpool followed, with his role at the former being limited to cameos as a striker off the bench.
Caulker’s career has been stalled by problems off the pitch as he has struggled with gambling and drinking addictions, though he has said he is ready to relaunch his career and finds himself being persuaded to join Celtic by Scott Sinclair.
5. LB – Nathan Baker
Nathan Baker started at left-back for the England side in 2010, just months after he was banned from attending Aston Villa’s League Cup final against Manchester United for trying to sell his allocation of tickets on Facebook for £200 each.
Aside from touting tickets and making marauding runs for the young England team, Baker has been an Aston Villa player ever since though like many of the U19 side he has had his fair share of loan spells.
His most recent loan move was to Bristol City in the 2015/16 season, but under Steve Bruce Baker returned to Aston Villa and was an important figure this season at the heart of their defence. His future looks to be pretty settled at Villa as the club push to return to the Premier League.
6. CM – Jacob Mellis
Jacob Mellis was a Chelsea player during the 2010 tournament but, after loan spells at Southampton and Barnsley, his time at the club came to a swift end. The player was sacked after setting off a smoke grenade at the training ground which caused a full-scale evacuation.
He signed for Barnsley in 2012 and had two successful years there, before staying in the Championship for the 2014/15 season with Blackpool.
Mellis has been at Bury ever since, but after scoring three goals in fifty-eight appearances it was announced this summer that he has signed for League Two side Mansfield.
7. CM – Matty James
So, who was England’s captain and leader for the U19 side? Matty James of course, the Leicester midfielder.
Back in 2010, James was at the heart of the English midfield as he marshalled the troops to the semi finals. Unfortunately for James, this would be the highlight of his international career.
A Manchester United player at the time, even if he didn’t make an appearance for the club, James then spent the next couple of seasons on loan at Preston before finding his new home at Leicester in 2012.
He was an important part of the side for the next three seasons, but would miss the entire 2015/16 season through injury as Leicester went on to win the league. James spent the second half of this season on loan at Barnsley and it remains to be seen where his future lies.
8. RM – Ryan Donaldson
Ryan Donaldson joined his hometown club Newcastle when he was nine, and made his first team debut for the club at the start of the 2009/10 season.
Having returned to the club after the U19 Euros, opportunities were limited and he soon found himself on short-term loans at Hartlepool and then at Tranmere, though injury cut the latter short.
Donaldson moved to Gateshead having been released by Newcastle in 2012, and a year later signed for Cambridge where he had a successful three years at the club. He was on the move again this summer, signing for Hartlepool from Plymouth.
9. LM – Thomas Cruise
Thomas Cruise might not have had the most successful career of those involved in the U19 side, but he can probably claim it’s been one of the most interesting.
A member of the Arsenal academy, Cruise made his one and only appearance for the first-team in the 2009/10 season as he started against Olympiacos in the Champions League. The following season though, having returned from the U19 Euros, Cruise was released by the club.
He went on to have trials at Sampdoria, Scunthorpe and New England Revolution before eventually signing for Torquay.
After three years at Torquay, he was released once again and at this point Cruise turned to a change in career. Deciding against following his namesake to Hollywood, he was last seen training to be an accountant.
10. ST – Nathan Delfouneso
Nathan Delfouneso played a total of fifty four games at U16, U17, U19 and U21 level for England, scoring twenty goals. Yet he was never able to add to this for the senior team.
He was at Aston Villa from 2008-2014 but the last four of these years were spent predominantly on loan, though often to no great success.
Eighteen months at Blackpool brought just six goals, but it was Blackpool who signed Delfouneso when he was released by Aston Villa in 2014. Brief spells at Blackburn, Bury and Swindon followed, before Delfouneso returned to Blackpool in January 2017 on a permanent deal.
11. ST – Frank Nouble
Frank Nouble was England’s top scorer at the U19 Euros with two goals, both in the opening group game against Austria.
Since 2010, Nouble has found himself in constant contact with removal companies around the world as he has played for no fewer than sixteen clubs.
Aside from a tour of the Championship and League One, Nouble even graced the second-tier of Chinese football with his talents as he netted three times for Tianjin Quanjian. He has since returned to England, and this summer signed a one-year contract with Newport County.