England under-20 World Cup: Five future Three Lions stars shining in South Korea

Joe Hall
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Solanke is mobbed by his England teammates after scoring against Italy (Source: Getty)

Are 51 years of hurt about to come to an end?

For the first time since 1966, an England team has made it into a World Cup final after the under-20 side came from a goal down to beat Italy 3-1 in the semi-finals of the under-20 version of the tournament in South Korea.

A brace from Liverpool’s Dominic Solanke and a poacher’s finish from Everton’s Ademola Lookman secured the young Three Lions a spot in Sunday’s final where they face Venezuela.

Here are five stars of manager Paul Simpson’s squad whose World Cup performances point to a promising future for England.

Dominic Solanke

Solanke celebrates scoring for England (Source: Getty)

Versatile forward Solanke has long been tipped for greatness, having represented England at every youth team level and starred for Chelsea’s various all-conquering academy teams.

Read more: Optimism reigns for Solanke and Chelsea’s new golden generation

Yet after years of expectation at Stamford Bridge, it is Liverpool fans who will have been giddy watching Solanke net four goals in South Korea after he agreed to join Jurgen Klopp’s team on a free transfer this summer.

Ademola Lookman

Sunday League -> Charlton -> Everton -> World Cup winner? Lookman celebrates scoring for the Three Lions (Source: Getty)

Three goals at the U-20 World Cup mark a continuing rise to prominence for Lookman, who makes up for a slight frame with serious skill.

The South Londoner, who was still playing Sunday League football as recently as 2014, joined Everton from Charlton in an £11m deal in January and promptly scored minutes into his debut against Manchester City.

Lookman scored a brace against Costa Rica to earn England a spot in the quarter-finals and was narrowly denied a hat-trick by striking the crossbar with a free-kick in the same game.

Sheyi Ojo

Ojo set up Liverpool teammate Solanke for the opening goal in England's victory over Italy (Source: Getty)

Ojo was just 14 years old when Liverpool saw off competition from the likes of Chelsea for his signature and splashed out £2m to bring him to Merseyside.

The winger broke into the Reds first team last season, but has struggled to fork out a permanent place in Klopp’s side.

Read more: Southampton and Leeds named best academies in English football for producing high earning players

Jonjoe Kenny

Everton v Liverpool: Premier League 2
More to come? Kenny lifted silverware for Everton's U-23 side last season (Source: Getty)

One of many Everton youngsters who have graduated from the academy into the first team, right-back Kenny has sent his stock soaring after appearing in every minute of England’s World Cup campaign.

Kenny also starred for Everton’s league-winning U-23 side this season alongside England teammates Callum Connolly, a 19-year-old defender, midfielder Kieran Dowell and striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Lewis Cook

Sunderland v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Ankle injuries restricted Cook's game time for the Cherries last season (Source: Getty)

Centre-midfielder Cook had racked up 80 first team performances for Leeds United by the age of 19 before moving to Bournemouth last summer.

Injuries have hampered Cook’s progress since, but his showings as captain for England this summer should earn him more of a starring role next season for Eddie Howe’s men.


England’s young talent is not limited to those currently in South Korea. Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford is still eligible for the age group but has already progressed to the senior team, as are club teammate Axel Tuanzebe, Everton’s Tom Davies, Chelsea’s Isaiah Brown and Tammy Abraham, West Ham’s Reece Oxford and Manchester City’s Patrick Roberts.

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