After helping England Under-17s become European champions last week, Dominic Solanke’s celebrations were put on hold due to educational commitments, but the Chelsea striker will finally be able to mark the outstanding achievement at Wembley on Friday.
Solanke was brilliant throughout the tournament, scoring four goals, including one in the final against the Netherlands. However, the morning after the match he was preparing for an English Literature GCSE, taking his attention away from the previous night’s exploits.
In recognition of their success, the Under-17s have been invited to parade the trophy around the Wembley pitch ahead of the senior England team’s friendly against Peru on Friday, and Solanke cannot wait.
‘I’ll be there at Wembley,’ he told thefa.com. ‘That’ll be a great moment and when it will hit home. It will be great to see all the lads again, we achieved so much together, so it’ll be great to get together and watch the seniors.
‘Not many of us have seen a proper England game or been to Wembley, so to parade the trophy around will be very special and I’m looking forward to it.’
‘After the Netherlands had cancelled out Solanke’s opening goal in last week’s final, the game was decided by a penalty shoot-out, with England coming out on top.
‘It was really surreal and we were all up quite late on the night after the game celebrating, but I knew I had my exam so I had to cut it short to go and get a bit of extra revision in and get a good sleep ahead of it,’ explained the youngster.
‘I had to fly back separately from the rest of the squad but I think it went well the next morning. It was an English Literature exam about poetry, but I’d done a lot of revision so fingers crossed it has gone alright as my exams are important to me.’
He went on to explain how the players juggled preparing for matches with preparing for exams.
‘It could have been difficult to balance everything while I was in Malta, as I had a Biology exam while I was there too along with Sam Howes, but the support we received from the staff and players was brilliant,’ he said.
‘We had an education officer out with the team to help us and take us for studying sessions, and this made it a lot easier and helped me to get the right balance between football and revision.
‘I’ve got some more studying to do as I’ve still got three exams left, and I want to do well as they are important. But after I’ve finished them I’m looking forward to having a good rest over the summer and come back stronger next season.
‘Once it comes to pre-season, I’ll be back working hard and try to carry on where I left off.’
It’s certainly been an eventful month for the 16 year old, who also scored the winning goal as our Under-18s won the FA Youth Cup courtesy of a dramatic comeback against Fulham.
With Solanke finishing, not only with a winner’s medal, but also as the competition’s top scorer, at the European Championships, it really has been a special time.
‘It was a fantastic achievement,’ he said. ‘When that final penalty went in we were all buzzing, you could see how much it meant to us all.
‘When we first got together at St. George’s Park before we went out, we were all focused on winning it – but for us to achieve that, it was fantastic.
‘And personally, for me to get the top goalscorer award, it just made it even better. That’s what I love doing, scoring goals. There were a lot of talented players at the tournament who could score goals, so it was a great achievement for me to get that award.
‘I like playing in big games and scoring in them is even better. It’s a great feeling. The whole team did really well though, and I could not have done as well without them. I was just the lucky one that ended up on the scoresheet.
‘I like to think I’m a big-game player and to score the goals that helped Chelsea win The FA Youth Cup, it’s a dream come true – then to go and score in the Euro final for my country was even better. It has been an incredible couple of weeks.’