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Foden, Sancho and Brewster can win England the World Cup - Anderson

16:44 GMT+3 15/10/2019
Curtis Anderson
In an exclusive interview with Goal, Curtis Anderson says there is no limit to what his former Under-17 team-mates can achieve at senior level

Curtis Anderson is more familiar with the quality of the next generation of England stars than most and he is in no doubt that they can lead the country to World Cup glory.

The goalkeeper lined up behind the likes of Jadon Sancho, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Rhian Brewster and Phil Foden during England’s Under-17 World Cup triumph in India two years ago.

That side ripped some of the best teams on the planet apart, even thrashing Spain in the final, with Foden netting twice in a rousing 5-2 victory.

Anderson was a key figure himself, saving and scoring a penalty in a shootout victory over Japan in the last 16, and he insists there is no limit to what his former team-mates can achieve at senior level.

“That team was ridiculous,” the 19-year-old tells Goal. “We had Rhian Brewster, who's just about breaking in at Liverpool, Emile Smith-Rowe at Arsenal, Morgan Gibbs-White at Wolves: everybody in that squad is in and around their first teams now.

"I think that team, as long as they keep going in the direction they're going, we definitely have a chance of winning the World Cup in a couple of years.

“When everyone matures a bit and you add in a couple of senior players that are already there, anything is possible.”

As a goalkeeper, Anderson knows he has to be more patient than his team-mates for his opportunity to shine but he doesn’t doubt that he can be part of England’s exciting future.

The Cumbrian came through the Academy ranks at Manchester City alongside Sancho and Foden but decided to make the bold move of leaving the club for American outfit Charlotte Independence in March.

His manager was sacked 10 matches into the season and Anderson is now back in England, training with Blackburn Rovers while a number of Championship clubs line up to sign him when the January transfer window opens.

Quitting City was tough, he admits, but Anderson is determined to gain playing minutes at an early age rather than waiting around in a reserve side. 

“It was difficult leaving City because it was my whole life,” he said. “I left my parents at the age of 12 to move to Manchester. It was a good environment because I matured very fast.

“But I know where I want to go and I didn't think staying would be the best for me.

“It’s different to being an outfield player, where you can come on for 20 minutes.

“That’s why I went to America to play games; you have to have something that sets you apart from everyone else.”

Anderson would even consider the prospect of following former team-mate Sancho to Germany, who he says are producing some of the best keepers in the world.

Sancho’s switch to Borussia Dortmund has been such a success that a number of young British players have made the same move to the Bundesliga.

Anderson never had any doubt that the winger was destined for the top but feels the England international deserves credit for bravely trying his luck in another country.

“We all knew he was very good and he knew he was very good as well,” Anderson explains.

“Phil Foden's doing very well at City, he's in the squad but he's good enough to play and he's not playing.

“Sancho's good enough to play to but if he were still at City, we don't know if he would be playing.

“There's Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva. Was he going to be playing at 18 or 19? Probably not. So, he went to Dortmund and has taken his chance. 

“He believed and backed himself to make it somewhere else and now a lot of players are starting to look at going down that route whereas maybe in the past they wouldn't have done.”

However, Anderson is quick to add that he still expects Foden to break into City's first team sooner or later because of the midfielder's intelligence and touch.

“You could always see he was miles ahead of everybody else with his feet and in his head,” the shot-stopper enthuses.

“He was always very good. He didn't really start playing at higher age grades until he was about 16 or 17 because he was really small.

“He's still quite small but now he knows how to use his height in his favour. He's so fast with his feet and that far ahead of everybody else that it doesn't matter anymore.”

Anderson's route to the Premier League will take longer.

But for a man who had the guts to smash in a penalty in front of 53,000 people in Kolkatta on the way to that Under-17s World Cup success, there is no doubt in his mind that he could follow some of his former team-mates in the England set-up.

And the former City Academy graduate is looking across his old city for his inspiration.

Manchester United's Dean Henderson was playing in the sixth tier of English football three years ago and is now on the cusp of Gareth Southgate's squad. 

“He was at Stockport County, went to League Two, League One, Championship and now Premier League," Anderson points out. "I've no doubt I can do the same thing as soon as I get my opportunity.

“I don’t have any self-doubt. I know as soon as I get my chance, I’ll go on loan to the lower leagues, do well and keep going all the way to the top.”