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Panzo: 'Terrifying' Sancho, Hudson-Odoi, Foden and Brewster will all reach the top

08:00 BST 15/04/2020
England Under-17s featuring Phil Foden Jadon Sancho Jonathan Panzo and George McEachran
The youngster made headlines at 16 by winning the World Cup at youth level in India and he says there's more to come from England's next generation

England Under-21 centre-back and Monaco youngster Jonathan Panzo is glad to see the country benefitting from the emergence at senior level of the generation which won the FIFA Under-17 World Cup back in 2017.

Panzo lined up alongside the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Phil Foden, Ryan Sessegnon, Angel Gomes and Rhian Brewster as England gained revenge on Spain in the World Cup final after losing the European Championship final just months earlier.

Sancho had sat out the tournament after playing in the Euros but he is very much part of the same band of breakthrough stars who remain a tight-knit group to this day.

Panzo has had his own breakthrough season at senior level at Cercle Brugge, while Sancho is already regarded as one of the world's biggest stars after registering 14 goals and 15 assists in 21 Bundesliga starts this term before the coronavirus shutdown.

The 19-year-old thinks that Sancho has been a trailblazer for the next generation, who he believes are ready to take the football world by storm just as the Borussia Dortmund attacker has done.

"Sancho was one of the first successful ones to do it," Panzo told Goal of the Chelsea and Manchester United target. "He got lots of respect from it. It inspired other players from the younger generation to do it as well.

"He has been fantastic. He is the same age as me and he is breaking records and it is just crazy. I hope he carries on doing that. I think there's a high possibility that the majority of my team could do that and be successful at the top.

"I wouldn't like to play against that front four, it is crazy—Callum, Sancho, Foden and Brewster [in the European Championship]. There was also Angel [Gomes], Tashan [Oakley-Boothe], Ryan [Sessegnon]. There's just too many names to say, it is unbelievable.

"Of course, we knew we had the talent. But I think the main point was that we had the togetherness as well, we weren't just individuals, we had the larger team in mind. We had great individuals, of course, although making it into a team gave us the power to take on anyone who came our way.

"Togetherness and talent make it better for all. We always knew Sancho had the talent and ability to do it but he also has the confidence to show it.

"Well, before I spoke to him and he just said, just be confident in yourself. Make sure it's for you because everyone's got a different pathway. Not everyone's going to go and do a Sancho. Just make sure it's for you and make sure you enjoy it.

"Just use it positively and use your talent. Work hard and make it work."

Panzo joined the Chelsea set-up at seven years old, after being spotted by a scout playing in Lewisham, and was earmarked as one of the stars of the Cobham academy.

That's why it came as a shock when the Blues lost their young defender to Monaco in 2018. He has since gone on to play three times for the Ligue 1 side and make a further 17 appearances on loan in the Belgian First Division at Cercle Brugge.

The 19-year-old has a lot of friends in west London, including Hudson-Odoi, having come through at the same time as each other. Panzo admits a tinge of regret having seen so many youngsters get their chance in the first team and he believes that Hudson-Odoi's talent was undeniable throughout his spell in the academy system.

"We all knew from when he was young that Callum was going to be successful at Chelsea," Panzo added. "We all knew it. It was just making everyone proud and he is doing what he normally does. I grew up with Callum and the things I have seen him do are crazy. He deserves it all and well done to him.

"I hope he carries on to be successful at Chelsea or wherever it takes him. From young, he was doing all the things you see now. It was crazy what you saw him do. He has a good family that push him as well.

"His dad helps him train and do extras and keeps him fit. So I would say it is a bit of both. I am buzzing that the players I played with are getting their chance. Billy Gilmour, Reece James and there's too many to even name now. They deserve it all.

"Hopefully many more get through and Chelsea carry on to push their younger players. They have shown what they can do in the academy. They can do it on the bigger stage. It is unfortunate for some of us before that didn't get a chance and maybe that's the reason why I left but it is just how things happen."