Wickham’s superb winner

CONNOR Wickham scored a superb winning goal to clinch the European Under-17 championship for England last night.

The 17-year-old Ipswich striker was England’s hero as they came from behind to beat Spain 2-1 in Liechtenstein – landing the first European title for an England men’s team since 1993.

Wickham used his pace and strength to surge past three Spanish defenders early in the second half before finishing brilliantly, finding the corner of the net. Five minutes later, Wickham created another clear-cut chance for himself, but lifted his angled shot over the bar.

England had gone behind midway through the first half, when defender Andre Wisdom unluckily sliced a cross into his own net. Wisdom quickly made amends, however, moving upfield to power home a header from an England corner.

The teams were level at half-time, but within two minutes of the restart Wickham had brilliantly put England ahead. It was a special goal from the Ipswich prodigy, and one which will enhance his burgeoning reputation even further. The goal even prompted former Town defender Russell Osman, summarising for TV, to suggest that Fabio Capello should take Wickham to South Africa for the World Cup instead of Emile Heskey!

Capello has apparently asked to be sent a DVD of this game, and the England manager will certainly be impressed by Wickham’s display of pace and power in leading the England line.

Spain battered England throughout the second-half, but the England boys managed to hold on through a combination of brave defending, superb goalkeeping, and a slice of luck when an intended clearance cannoned off the post.

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Wickham had a chance to ease England nerves when he went through one-on-one in injury time, but he smashed his shot straight at the Spanish keeper. Seconds later, Wickham and his team-mates were celebrating England’s first European trophy in men’s international football since the under-18s – Gary Neville and Paul Scholes included – lifted the European crown.

With the cameras following Wickham’s every move, and the commentators describing him as “Ipswich Town’s young superstar,’’ there will certainly be increased speculation about the young striker’s future.

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