Pearce proud of England record

04 June 2013 04:47

Reaching the European Championship finals represents success in itself for England Under-21s manager Stuart Pearce, although the "burning ambition" remains to win the tournament.

The Young Lions did just that in 1982 and 1984, but the best they have managed since is reaching the 2009 final when they where heavily defeated by Germany. Pearce was at the helm that night and kicks off his fourth successive finals at the Under-21s' helm against Italy on Wednesday evening in Tel Aviv.

"When you look at my time in charge, France have not been here once and they are a major side," the former England international said.

"To get here and be part of this fantastic tournament is a success in itself. When we start our journey every two years, we sit our players down and we talk about winning the tournament. We are here to win the tournament.

"I would be really disappointed if there was not seven other nations here not here to win it as well. That is the message I only ever send out to the squad.

"On top of that it will be how many players can get tournament experience here, the likes of Jordan Henderson, who can step into the seniors next time round with that experience that they have had of tournament football.

"If I strip it down, the burning ambition inside me is to win it. But if I strip it down to me doing my job developing players, developing the 23 players here at the moment will have had fantastic experience and know what tournament football is all about."

In the short-term, the Group A opener against Italy will play a major part in determining England's success.

Boasting senior internationals like Marco Verratti, Mattia Destro and Fabio Borini, the Azzurrini pose the sternest test in a group that also includes Norway and hosts Israel.

"I think Italy are the favourites," Pearce said. "Having played the Norwegians on two occasions, I think they are an extremely good side. The Israelis have home advantage and I think that will play a big part in this. It is a fairly wide open group, if I am being honest with you."

Source: PA