Prince William hails the 'passion' of Paul Simpson's World Cup-winning England Under-20s squad at Kensington Palace reception

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Royal approval: The Duke of Cambridge with members of the England squad and head coach Paul Simpson on Thursday
Royal approval: The Duke of Cambridge with members of the England squad and head coach Paul Simpson on Thursday

Prince William hailed the “passion” of Paul Simpson’s World Cup-winning England Under-20s squad this week.

The Duke of Cambridge was introduced to 16 players from the 23-member Lions’ squad, as well as the support team who helped propel them to victory, as he hosted a Kensington Palace reception celebrating their World Cup success, on Thursday.

In June, the side, led by former Carlisle United boss Simpson, became the first England team to win a football World Cup since 1966 after defeating Venezuela 1-0 in the final in Korea.

During the reception, William told the players: “We need your youth and your passion.”

Cumbrian Simpson joked the squad had been on their best behaviour during the palace reception, which he described as a “huge honour”.

“I’ve never known them so quiet – it’s incredible,” he said. “The players have behaved themselves very, very well. They even held back from having the cake.

“We are immensely proud of what the players achieved over the summer, winning the World Cup, but to get it all topped off with an invite to Kensington Palace is wonderful.”

Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who scored the winning goal in the final, added: “I think a lot of us are keeping it cool but I’ve had my mum on the phone saying how excited she is for me.”

Aston Villa fan and the president of the Football Association William, meanwhile, hailed the ability of Josh Onomah who is on loan at the Championship outfit from Tottenham.

The Duke told England’s head coach Simpson: “I saw him play the other day. He played very well.”

“William expressed how much of a Villa fan he is and how much he is going to come down to games and just wished me luck,” Onomah added.

“To get wished luck by the Prince is a big thing.”

Having posed for photos outside with the winning squad and their trophy, the Duke said: “You should be very proud of yourselves.”

England beat Argentina, drew with Guinea and got the better of South Korea to top their group. They then claimed victories against Costa Rica, Mexico, Italy and Venezuela on their way to World Cup glory.

Whitehaven-born goalkeeper Dean Henderson was also in the successful England squad.

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