We look at what’s become of England’s finalists from the 2009 European U21 Championships...
It’s six years since Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21 side reached the final of the European Championship.
After impressing in the tournament, that team was unable to take the last step as they lost 4-0 to Germany in Malmo.
But what became of England’s young hopefuls? It’s been something of a mixed bag for Pearce’s starting XI…
Loach deputised for the suspended Joe Hart in the 2009 final and made an error for the second Germany goal. He subsequently played regularly at Championship level for Watford and Ipswich but currently finds himself on the transfer list at Rotherham having had loan spells at Bury, Peterborough and Yeovil in the 2014/15 season.
A versatile defender, Cranie played 79 minutes of the final at right-back for Pearce’s side. Having made his Premier League debut for Southampton at Chelsea aged 17, he later played in the top flight for Portsmouth too but has since spent time in the lower leagues – twice suffering relegation from the Championship with both Coventry and Barnsley. He has not been offered a new deal at Oakwell.
Richards played at centre-back for England in the 2009 final having already debuted for the senior side in 2006. He has made almost 250 appearances for Manchester City in all competitions, but spent the 2014/15 campaign on loan at Serie A side Fiorentina – struggling to secure a first-team place – and this week completed a move to Aston Villa on a free transfer.
Onuoha partnered his Manchester City team-mate Richards in defence against Germany before being substituted at half-time. He remained at City for another two seasons – the second spent on loan at Sunderland – before moving to Queens Park Rangers where he suffered relegation from the Premier League for the second time in 2014/15.
Gibbs played at left-back for England in 2009 and graduated to Fabio Capello’s senior squad the following year. He continues to enjoy regular international call-ups and remains an Arsenal regular, having made more than 100 Premier League appearances for the club. He was a starter when Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2014 but an unused substitute when they retained the trophy this year and started the senior team's most recent European Qualifier against Slovenia.
Cattermole was a Wigan player when he represented England in Sweden but moved to Sunderland in a £6million move later that summer. The combative midfielder remains with the Black Cats and has now made more than 230 Premier League appearances but has yet to receive international recognition with the England senior side.
Muamba had already made 75 Premier League appearances when he took part in the 2009 final and went on to play 33 times for England’s Under-21s. But in 2012 he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch while playing for Bolton in an FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham. His life was saved but he was forced to retire from football on medical advice later that year. He’s now working on his coaching badges.
Noble captained Pearce’s team in Sweden in 2009 and was already a West Ham regular at Premier League level at that time. He dropped down to the Championship with the club in 2011 but immediately helped the team back into the top flight and has now made 300 league appearances in English football. At the age of 28, he’s still waiting for his first senior England cap.
“The way we lost the game is not good enough,” said Milner after the team’s heavy defeat to Germany. The midfielder was the team’s most experienced player having already played Premier League football for Leeds, Newcastle and Aston Villa. Milner’s record of 46 Under-21 appearances still stands and he went on to win the Premier League title twice with Manchester City as well as featuring 53 times and counting for the senior England team - he joined Liverpool on a free transfer this summer.
Walcott had been part of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England squad at the 2006 World Cup but still had only six Premier League goals to his name by the time of the 2009 tournament. He has gone on to make more than 300 appearances for Arsenal, scoring the opening goal in this season’s FA Cup final win over Aston Villa, as well as appearing for England at Euro 2012.
Johnson went into the 2009 tournament having just suffered relegation from the Premier League with Middlesbrough and eventually moved on to Manchester City, where he helped the club to title success in 2012. A move to Sunderland followed but Johnson’s life and career is currently under a cloud as he faces three counts of sexual activity with a child under 16 - which he denies.
Germany starting XI from 2009 final: Manuel Neuer, Andreas Beck, Benedikt Howedes, Jerome Boateng, Sebastian Boenisch, Mats Hummels, Fabian Johnson, Gonzalo Castro, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Sandro Wagner.