Sir Trevor pays tribute to Under-21 spirit

West Ham United legend Sir Trevor Brooking has paid tribute to the spirit and character of the England Under-21 squad following their heartbreaking exit from the European Championship semi-finals this week.

The Young Lions - including Upton Park trio Mark Noble, Anton Ferdinand and Nigel Reo-Coker - were denied a place in the final following an unforgettable penalty shoot-out defeat against hosts Holland, and the FA's Director of Football Development was full of praise for their efforts.

"The lads worked so hard to get this far," said Sir Trevor. "Throughout the qualifying campaign, in the Finals and on the training pitch, they have been committed to doing well for England.

"For the tournament to end in the way it did is heartbreaking for them, but it is about how these players deal with that and learn from it. It is all part of their education as England internationals and we hope that these players will draw from that experience and benefit from it going forward."

Sir Trevor also had a word of praise for another former Hammer, Stuart Pearce, coach of the Under-21 side and now favourite to retain the post on a full-time basis as England look to increase their commitment to developing the county's young players.

"Clearly our priority is looking to the future and I believe we are committed to making the coach of this side a full-time position," he said. "The past two weeks here in Holland show the importance of the role and why it should be permanent.

"Stuart Pearce has done fantastically well in this tournament, the spirit in the camp has been great and they really showed their character in the face of adversity against the Dutch. They were seconds away from a place in the final, and Stuart, the coaches and all the staff can be very proud of what they have achieved."