Phil Foden can be the leader of England’s next Golden Generation.
But the class of 2017 have the all-important experience of winning which can set them apart as world class stars of the future.
That is the message of Swansea boss Steve Cooper who managed Foden and England’s under-17s team to World Cup glory in India four years ago.
Manchester City starlet Foden, 20, was the jewel in the crown in that tournament, scoring twice in the final, getting man-of-the-match and Player of the Tournament. And is now coming of age in the Premier League.
It has taken patience for Foden to get his chance with City but his starring role in the demolition of Liverpool on Sunday has reminded the nation that England are blessed with a generational talent and potential global superstar.
Foden’s eye for goal, speed and ability to dribble and glide across the pitch sets him apart from the rest and has made him City’s natural successor for David Silva.
England, of course, were supposedly on course to win major trophies with the class of David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard but fell short in 2004 and 2006.
But now the likes of Foden, Emile Smith-Rowe, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jason Sancho have got the world at their feet and the know-how when it comes to winning tournaments.
Cooper, whose side will come face-to-face with Foden and City in the FA Cup on Wednesday night, said: “It was about getting the right individuals into the programme to go through the system and play in the under-21s, the seniors with Gareth Southgate.
“That’s what you want at the end of the day, to be competitive here and now but also to have the right players to go through the system and get to the end which, in England terms, is the senior team.
“They were a good group. Don’t get me wrong, the year before with the likes of Mason Mount, Reiss Nelson, Reece James, Eddie Nketiah, they were the 99 group, the 2001s with Bukayo Saka, the 02s had a load of players coming through and the 03s.
“But the 2000s, they will always be a talking point because we did win the World Cup. They now have a manager in Gareth who is committed to giving them opportunities.
“It’s good to see that we had a good team there and individuals are now shining on the Premier League, Bundesliga and on the big stage now. That is what, in the end, international football is. It’s about being specialists at tournament football.
“That’s why we completely revamped the game programme, didn’t play friendlies anymore, just played tournaments and hopefully long term Gareth and the players will benefit from those experiences.”
Cooper keeps in touch with players from that England squad, Foden included, and knows only too well of his talent and the threat he will pose Swansea when they meet on Wednesday.
But Cooper also stressed that Foden had both the natural footballing talent and character needed to reach the very top.
Cooper added: “It’s brilliant to see him doing so well. He is full of confidence now and a fantastic talent. He’s a brilliant lad and it’s great to see him succeeding at a high level.
“He’s a very likeable lad and team player. I remember when we were in India he had the ball at his feet in his room and on the corridors all the time.
“That group was like that anyway, they had a lot of love and understanding for the game and Phil epitomised that.
“You saw a fantastic player every single day. He was a pleasure to work with. But he’s always been like that. Just a natural on the training pitch and in games. He’s growing up always being himself.
“He’s just a nice lad. If you haven’t got humility you cannot go on to become a top player. It’s as much about having the right character as it is the talent and he’s a great example of a player having the right attitude.”