Head coach Steve Cooper proud of England players despite penalty shootout defeat
Head coach Steve Cooper said he was proud of his players following England's cruel penalty shootout defeat to Spain in the European Under-17 Championship final.
The Young Lions looked set to become the first nation to win the tournament three times before s ubstitute Nacho Diaz headed home a stoppage-time equaliser for Spain with the last touch of the game.
Phil Foden's stunning second-half strike had restored England's lead after Callum Hudson-Odoi's opener had been cancelled out by Spain defender Mateu Morey before the interval.
In a new penalty shootout format Spain triumphed 4-1 and it was they who clinched a third tournament win instead.
"We should be proud," Cooper told the Football Association's official website.
"We've had a fantastic tournament and a fantastic season, which I've said to the players.
"My emotion is pride and although it doesn't feel it now this experience will be a good one when we get over it and we can do a little bit better in future tournaments.
"It's difficult to take the result, conceding the goal as late as we did, with the last kick of the game. It's never good when you lose on penalties."
The new shootout format being trialled in the tournament saw Aidan Barlow convert first for England before Abel Ruiz and Morey scored the next two spot kicks for Spain.
Rhian Brewster's effort then hit the inside of a post and after Joel Latibeaudiere blazed his penalty over the crossbar, Sergio Gomez and Victor Chust both scored to earn Spain victory.
"I thought we had good spells in the game, but credit to Spain they did as well. 1-1 was fair at half-time," Cooper added.
"There was a little bit of cat and mouse in the second half, a little bit of demand for possession.
"We managed to take the lead and tried to see the game out, but I don't think anybody would have written that script at the end of the game. It hurts."
England, who won the tournament in 2010 and 2014, secured qualification for the Under-17 World Cup in India in October and t he draw for the group stages takes place on July 7 in Mumbai.