UEFA tournament ambassador Jack Butland is urging the nation to get behind the Young Lions as England prepares to host the Under-17 European Championship for the first time – with under 50 days until the big kick-off.
Tickets for the eagerly-awaited tournament, which will be staged across ten match days at six venues, incuding the Pirelli Stadium, from Friday 4 May to Sunday 20 May, are now on public sale.
England’s group fixtures will be held at Chesterfield FC on Friday 4 May (KO 1900), Walsall FC on Monday 7 May (KO 1500) and Rotherham United on Thursday 10 May (KO 1900)*.
Burton Albion, Loughborough University and St George’s Park will also stage matches.
Stoke City goalkeeper Butland, a key member of the England side which won the tournament in 2010, believes home support could be key to propelling Steve Cooper’s current crop all the way to the final in Rotherham on Sunday 20 May.
Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard, Paul Pogba and Mario Gotze are just some of the famous names to have appeared at previous editions of the Under-17 European Championship.
And with tickets starting from just £2 for children and £4 for adults, fans of all ages can watch Europe’s future stars on their doorstep at affordable prices.
To mark the 50-day countdown, Butland surprised pupils at Burnwood Primary School, Stoke-on-Trent, by taking the Under-17 European Championship trophy into a Thursday afternoon assembly, where he was joined by social media influencer ‘Tekkerz Kid’.
Butland, who was named in the 22-man team of the tournament in 2010, said: “The UEFA Under-17 European Championship is a great chance to go and see the stars of tomorrow.
“I have not been lucky enough to play in a home tournament for England so for these young England players to do that, it will be a massive experience and they can really show what they are about.
“With England playing at Walsall, Chesterfield and Rotherham, it is a great chance for fans to go out and support the Young Lions. We have a bright future in this country and these players are at the heart of that.
“There is also going to be plenty of European talent on show in the matches at Loughborough University, St George’s Park and Burton.”
After the unprecedented success of England’s development teams in 2017 and interest in youth football at an all-time high, these are exciting times for the Young Lions.
England, who also won the title in 2014 and finished runners-up to Spain last year, have qualified automatically as hosts.
The Young Lions will discover their group opponents when the draw for the 16-nation tournament takes place at St George’s Park on 5 April.
Butland, who was confirmed in Gareth Southgate’s senior squad for the forthcoming friendlies against Holland and Italy, added: “Winning the Under-17 European Championship eight years ago has been a massive part of my career. It is one of my favourite moments in football.
“We had a great set of talent that year – and we do this year too. For anyone to get to play in this major tournament will be very special.
“From a senior point of view, we want to follow that and show that we are leading the way. It is a great time for English football and it is great to see the young sides doing so well.”
See the stars of tomorrow in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship, 4-20 May 2018. Visit www.TheFA.com/U17Euro for tickets and further information.