Internationals. World Cup finalists are hoping to make Newcastle proud

09 Jun 17

Newcastle's Freddie Woodman and Adam Armstrong look ahead to Sunday's FIFA Under-20 World Cup final in the Korea Republic

Freddie Woodman and Adam Armstrong could line up against Venezuela in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup final in Suwon, South Korea, and both know that, whatever happens in the showpiece against the South Americans, they have represented their country - and club - with distinction.

Armstrong, 20, hails from the Chapel House area of Newcastle and has been with the Magpies since the age of nine. He is looking to become only the third Geordie to lift a World Cup, following in the footsteps of Bobby and Jack Charlton more than 50 years ago.

Goalkeeper Woodman, meanwhile, was born in Croydon, south London, but joined Newcastle's Academy as a teenager and made his Reserve team debut in a friendly against York at the age of just 14. Now 20 years old, he has conceded just two goals in the tournament so far.

The England team is led by former Newcastle assistant coach Paul Simpson and Sunday's final kicks off at 7pm local time (11am BST). It will be broadcast live on British Eurosport 2.

Speaking exclusively to from Korea, Armstrong said: "To be in a World Cup final is every boy's dream, no matter what level it's at.

"All the lads are buzzing. We know that we've made history already and we've just got to go and lift the trophy now and make our families and our country proud.

"It's a World Cup and it's going to stand us in good stead for the rest of our careers. It's always going to be on our CV if we win the World Cup. Every lad is doing their club proud out here - and I hope me Freddie are doing Newcastle proud."

Close friends off the pitch, both were part of the Young Lions side which won the UEFA European Under-17 Championships in Malta in 2014 but Woodman - who took many of headlines when England beat the Netherland on penalties in the final - believes lifting the Under-20 World Cup would eclipse even that.

"Even just being out here for a month, you can see how big a tournament this is," he said. "It's a huge competition to be involved in and I've enjoyed every minute of being here.

"Sometimes you can get a bit homesick or you can start missing your family but I haven't done that once here. It's been like one big family; the team and everyone here has enjoyed every single moment of this together.

"We set a goal at the beginning of the camp to get here and now we're finally here. It's amazing - all our hard work and everything we've put into this four weeks has paid off. Now we want to go one further and lift the trophy."

Amazingly, going into the tournament England hadn't won a single Under-20 World Cup match since 1997, but a 3-0 success against Argentina in the opening group game - with Armstrong on target - got Simpson's Young Lions up and running.

Woodman explained: "I was hearing all this stuff and it was quite negative, so when we arrived we just wanted to get the first win out of the way.

"Arma's been brilliant in this tournament. He scored against Argentina and really secured that game for us; we were 1-0 up at the time and he got the second goal which meant we could relax and see the game out."

Armstrong - whose parents have travelled to East Asia to support him - added: "Argentina were one of the favourites to win the competition so for us to beat them 3-0 was a big boost for us.

"The squad that we've got is unbelievable. We've been together now since under-16s, under-17s and everyone is around their first team or playing first team games (at club level) so we've got a lot of experience in our team.

"We were confident of doing well but now that it's here, to be 90 minutes away from a World Cup is just surreal, really. Hopefully on Sunday we can be the ones that come out on top."

England secured their place in the final by coming from behind to beat Italy 3-1 on Thursday, thanks to a brace from Liverpool's new signing Dominic Solanke and Everton youngster Ademola Lookman.

And Armstrong said: "There's a lot of character in this group. If we ever go down a goal or two, we're always confident that we can bring it back because we've got a lot of quality in the attacking side of things and we know we can score goals.

"We've played Italy a lot of times through the age groups so we knew defensively they were really good and would be hard to break down, but on the night we knew we could do it. It probably could have been more than 3-1, so it was a really good result."

While Armstrong has been among the goals, Woodman - who spent the second half on loan with Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premier League - has kept three clean sheets in five games so far.

However, he deflected the credit in the same way that he's been deflecting shots throughout the tournament. "It's nice for me but it's really a credit to the lads in front of me because they've been brilliant," he insisted. "They've really thrown their bodies on the line, defended well and created a lot of chances going forward as well.

"But I'm happy - I wanted to come here and do well because it's on the world scene and a lot of people have been watching the games. It gets quite a lot of coverage so for myself I wanted to prove to people that I am good enough to play at this level."

Sunday's opponents have also built much of their success on a solid defence - although they did beat South Pacific minnows Vanuatu 7-0 as they emerged from a tough group which also included Germany and Mexico.

Forward Sergio Córdova currently sits joint-second in the race for the tournament's golden boot, and La Vinotinto have also seen off Japan, the USA and Uruguay - but Woodman is approaching the game in a positive frame of mind.

"We played the hosts (England beat South Korea at the group stage) in Suwon, where we're playing the final game, and the atmosphere was amazing," he said. "They (the Korean fans) cheer about everything and they're so supportive of the English clubs, and I feel like we've got them on our side, so that'll be nice going into the final.

"We know it's going to be a tough game but with the quality we've got in the side, we've got to go into it really confident.

"Not many of us will get another opportunity to play in a World Cup final. We've got to grab it with both hands."

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