WORLD-class Leeds Schools FA Under-12s are settling back into life in Yorkshire after after dazzling on African soil at the World Cup-style Danone Nations Cup.
The Leeds side headed to Morocco proudly representing England after winning the Inter-District leg of the ESFA Danone Nations Cup Under-11s tournament earlier this year.
And despite facing top-class Academy teams from the likes of Paris St Germain and Borussia Dortmund, Leeds performed with huge credit as victories against the UAE, Romania and China helped them finish 19th in the world. France’s former World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane was on hand to witness the action.
England were drawn in a ‘group of death’ alongside previous winners Mexico, Egypt and Portugal. A 2-2 draw with the Egyptians was sandwiched by a 1-0 loss to Mexico an a 2-0 defeat to Portugal as Leeds finished third in the group.
But three wins out of our in the knockout stages had Leeds leaving Morocco with a winning feeling with Roamnia and UAE both beaten 1-0 with two goals without reply sinking the Chinese. Romania were only victors with all associated with the team leaving hugely thrilled and proud with their efforts.
Josh Stones, captain of Team England said: “I am so proud of the team, we have come a long way since the start of the competition in September last year. To make it to Morocco and represent England was a dream come true and I am so happy that the team placed 19th in the World and that we made friends from across the globe!”
Harrogate-born former Tottenham, Liverpool and England centre-back John Scales is an ambassador of the ESFA Danone Nations Cup and he too was delighted with his home nation’s efforts.
And even the young footballers’ families were overcome with emotion.
Stuart Roberts, dad of Leeds’ Cole Roberts, said: “It really was something else with an armed motorcade for the teams through the streets of Marrakech every day.
“You had Zidane ball juggling at half-time in the stadium, an atmosphere you wouldn’t believe and some great quality on show. The Leeds lads held their own even though some countries sent their top academy teams such as PSG representing France and Borussia Dortmund from Germany. “Amazing stuff.”
Leeds team: Finlay Wade, Billy Carroll, Connor Pearson, Jack Teaham, Alfie Wilkinson, Aidan Rivers, Cole Roberts, Dylan Youmbi, Saul Kane, Josh Stones, Daniel Hernandez, Ross Allison.
n Horsforth St Margaret’s Colts Under-14s marched on in the County Cup with an 8-2 defeat of Queensbury Rangers B.
Queensbury took a 10th-minute lead but Horsforth were 3-2 up by half-time thanks to a Charlie Webb goal and Charlie Heath brace.
Heath went on to complete a hat-trick with Webb adding a penalty to go with second-half goals from Michael Wood, a Guy Davenport free-kick and Jack Appleyard.
Drighlington Juniors Under-14s also raced through with a 10-0 demolition of Dewsbury Rangers.
Man of the match Harry Carney scored five, supported by a Kyle Murtagh hat-trick plus goals from Ellis Beneker and Jake Curtis.
Kirkstall Crusaders Under-16s made it five wins out of five in the second division of the Harrogate & District Junior League with Sunday’s 7-0 hammering of visiting Knaresborough Celtic Under-16s Hoops.
The match ball was kept by Faisal Sheikh with an outstanding hat-trick, supported by goals from Paddy Mcgill, James Mellor, Eliels Anku and captain Ellis Redfearn
Brad Dobson, Lewys Cave and keeper Travis Byrne also shone for Kirkstall but Celtic custodian Dan Balbi took the player of the match plaudits with his great saves and positive attitude.
Title-chasing Kirkstall Crusaders Under-17s returned to winning ways in Division 2A and 2B of the Garforth League with a 4-1 defeat of visiting Kippax Athletic Juniors.
Captain Connor Flanagan rallied his troops and fired in a brace, with supporting goals from Patrick Mcgill and Aaron Chapman.
Superb Kirkstall performances also came from Kamen Greaves, Ethan Mamoudi, Hakkinen Anani and Rashid Abound.
Drighlington Juniors B Under-14s won 3-1 at Hade Edge Tigers in Division Two of the Huddersfield League with Ben Harris scoring a brace, added to by a Harrison Petticrew strike.
Strong defender Jason Whittaker took the player of the match award.
In Division 5A and 5B, Hall Green United Under-14s were felled 6-3 by visiting Shelley C Under-14s.
Liam Morrison, with a penalty, Andrew Booth and Jack Holland netted for Green whose Alexander Welch took the United player of the match award.
Hall Green United Under-13s enjoyed a 6-4 victory at Hepworth United B in Division 4B.
A first-half hat-trick from Dalton Jackson was followed by second half goals from Zak Burnside, Emily Sykes and player of the match Josh Topp.
Hall Green United Under-12s were 4-1 victors at home to title rivals Kexborough Under-14s in Division 4B. Kexborough went 1-0 up but a Mathew Spawforth hat-trick including one penalty plus a Marcus Barrett strike dramatically turned the tide.