England manager John Peacock and penalty shoot-out heroes Jonjoe Kenny and Freddie Woodman told UEFA.com that practising spot kicks over the past fortnight had made the difference in Wednesday's UEFA European Under-17 Championship final against the Netherlands.
The sides drew 1-1 over 80 minutes, meaning penalties were required. While England dispatched all four of their efforts – Kenny with the clincher – the Dutch missed one and had another saved by Woodman. All that meant glory for Peacock and his team.
John Peacock, England manager
I told you this side have character and I thought we played really well today. We had a really good game plan and deservedly went in front, in my opinion. It [the equaliser] was a bit of a knockout blow just before half-time, but the lads really showed their character in the second half. It's never nice for a team to lose on penalties, but England have been there before so it's just nice that it's our turn to be successful.
[For the first] 39 minutes I thought we were exceptional; I thought we defended really well; we passed the ball well; we were really in control of it; we were frustrating the Dutch a little bit. [At half-time] I told them to remember the 39 minutes and eradicate that one minute.
We've been practising penalties every training session for the last two weeks. We've done a few hours on penalties.
It's not easy to replicate doing it in front of a 9,000 crowd with a European championship medal potentially at stake, but I thought today's were absolutely fantastic. Overall they've really deserved it and I'm absolutely delighted for all the players.
Jonjoe Kenny, England defender
I'm over the moon. I knew if their [player] missed I was going to be taking the winning penalty.
As I walked up to it I felt the nerves, but I knew where I was going and I was confident in what I was going to do. We've been practising for the last two weeks and I haven't missed one yet. I had scored eight out of eight and now this is nine out of nine.
I thought first half we battered them for 39 minutes, to be honest with you. Then there was a one-minute bad spell and they scored a good goal. Even in the second half I thought we were better, but it went to penalties and we finished them off.
[Captain Ryan Ledson] and me are best mates. Doing it together's the best thing I could ask for really. I've been out injured for ten weeks and he's always been there for me. I'm buzzing for him – as a captain he deserves it so I'm made up.
Freddie Woodman, England goalkeeper
We've been practising them every day after training. All the lads could have done better at the start, so we looked at it on the video and got better every as every training session went on. I thought the boys' penalties tonight were unbelievable. Even if the keeper goes the right way, he couldn't save them anyway.
Yes, I've saved a few in training. I've had a bit of banter with the lads, telling them I'm going to save theirs. I felt confident because I saved one against Turkey as well.
I feel confident I'm going to save at least one going into a penalty shoot-out. It's unbelievable and you just can't describe how everyone's feeling. You wait all season to get the trophy and now it's finally here. Words can't express what the boys are like in there.
It's been an unbelievable experience that I'll take into the future with me – as I'm sure all the other lads will as well. To play on TV and to play against massive teams and good players can only make you better.
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