Pearce proud of young Lions
Stuart Pearce has spoken of his pride after England Under 21s secured their place in Sweden's finals.
By James Dall
Last Updated: 15/10/08 8:48am
England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce has spoken of his pride after his charges secured their place at next summer's European Championship finals.
Pearce's team claimed a 5-4 aggregate triumph over their Welsh counterparts after Tuesday night's second leg at Villa Park ended 2-2.
The former Manchester City boss concedes his side came up against an impressive Wales outfit, and praised his players for their achievement as he looks ahead to the tournament in Sweden.
He said on Sky Sports News: "From my point of view, I am very, very proud of my team.
"When people talk about international football, and why we try to give players experience - I think over the two games both sets of teams will come away enriched having played for their nation."
Pearce added: "It was as stern a test as we have had in my time as manager. We have been pushed hard by Spain, Italy and Holland but Wales were right up there.
"Ramsey's goal was unstoppable and in the end I am just glad to get through."
Captain Steven Taylor said: "We have a lot of quality and hunger. Personally, I think this squad now is stronger than the one we took to Holland.
"There is no reason why we can't play to our potential and go on to win the competition."
Of his troops' display, Wales coach Brian Flynn added: "On the night, I feel we just deserved to edge it. I told the players they had to get to 30 minutes left and still have a chance.
"They managed that but once their player got sent off we found it hard to break England down. A number of these lads have proved they are ready to step up now."
Flynn also reserved praise for Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who struck a spectacular goal on the evening in the Midlands.
He said: "He is a fantastic player who is progressing in the right direction. His passing is sublime and his finish for the goal was just sensational."