We look at what’s become of England’s finalists from the 2009 European U21 Championship…
It’s eight years since Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21 side reached the final of the European Championship.
After impressing in the tournament, that team was unable to take the last step as they lost 4-0 to Germany in Malmo.
But what became of England’s young hopefuls? It’s been something of a mixed bag for Pearce’s starting XI…
Loach deputised for the suspended Joe Hart in the 2009 final and made an error for the second Germany goal. He subsequently played regularly at Championship level for Watford and Ipswich before loans spells at Bury, Peterborough and Yeovil while at Rotherham United.
Loach joined Notts Country in 2015, and went out on loan to York City earlier this year, though he did not have his contract renewed at Meadow Lane.
A versatile defender, Cranie played 79 minutes of the final at right-back for Pearce’s side. Having made his Premier League debut for Southampton at Chelsea aged 17, he later played in the top flight for Portsmouth too but has since spent time in the lower leagues – twice suffering relegation from the Championship with both Coventry and Barnsley.
Cranie headed to Huddersfield Town in the summer of 2015, and most recently experienced promotion to the Premier League with the Terriers – making 14 appearances throughout the campaign.
Richards played at centre-back for England in the 2009 final having already debuted for the senior side in 2006. He has made almost 250 appearances for Manchester City in all competitions, but spent the 2014/15 campaign on loan at Serie A side Fiorentina – struggling to secure a first-team place – before heading to Aston Villa on a free transfer.
Richards has been hampered by injuries and fitness problems at Villa Park, making just two appearances this season.
Onuoha partnered his Manchester City team-mate Richards in defence against Germany before being substituted at half-time.
He remained at City for another two seasons – the second spent on loan at Sunderland – before moving to Queens Park Rangers where he suffered relegation from the Premier League for the second time in 2014/15. He remains a regular at Rangers, with the club recently finishing 18th in the Sky Bet Championship.
Gibbs played at left-back for England in 2009 and graduated to Fabio Capello’s senior squad the following year. He continued to receive regular international call-ups while remaining an Arsenal regular, but this season he has found himself battling with Nacho Monreal for a starting spot.
The emergence of Danny Rose, Ryan Bertrand and Luke Shaw also means Gibbs has fallen down the pecking order with the national team.
Cattermole was a Wigan player when he represented England in Sweden but moved to Sunderland for £6million later that summer.
The combative midfielder remains with the Black Cats and has now made 271 Premier League appearances, though he was stricken by injury this season as the club finally succumbed to relegation. A call to the senior England team is yet to come for Cattermole.
Muamba had already made 75 Premier League appearances when he took part in the 2009 final and went on to play 33 times for England’s Under-21s. But in 2012 he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch while playing for Bolton in an FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham.
His life was saved but he was forced to retire from football on medical advice later that year. He’s now working on his coaching badges, while he also gained a BA (Hons) at Staffordshire University in sports journalism.
Noble captained Pearce’s team in Sweden in 2009 and was already a West Ham regular at Premier League level at that time. He dropped down to the Championship with the club in 2011 but immediately helped the team back into the top flight and has now made more than 350 league appearances in English football.
At the age of 30, he’s still waiting for his first senior England cap – though he may fear that ship has sailed despite being a consistent performer in the Premier League.
“The way we lost the game is not good enough,” said Milner after the team’s heavy defeat to Germany. The midfielder was the team’s most experienced player having already played Premier League football for Leeds, Newcastle and Aston Villa.
Milner’s record of 46 Under-21 appearances still stands and he went on to win the Premier League title twice with Manchester City. After joining Liverpool on a free transfer in 2015, he announced his retirement from international football a year later after featuring 61 times for the senior England team.
Walcott had been part of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England squad at the 2006 World Cup but still had only six Premier League goals to his name by the time of the 2009 tournament.
He has gone on to make almost 400 appearances for Arsenal, scoring the opening goal in this season’s FA Cup final win over Aston Villa, as well as appearing for England at Euro 2012. Walcott missed out on the 2014 World Cup with injury, while he was omitted from the squad for Euro 2016.
Johnson went into the 2009 tournament having just suffered relegation from the Premier League with Middlesbrough and eventually moved on to Manchester City, where he helped the club to title success in 2012.
A move to Sunderland followed but Johnson’s career came to a halt after he was sentenced to six years in prison for a child sex offence in 2016.
He was found guilty of one count of sexual activity with a child and cleared of one further count, while his appeal against the conviction was dismissed at the Court of Appeal earlier this year.
Germany starting XI from 2009 final: Manuel Neuer, Andreas Beck, Benedikt Howedes, Jerome Boateng, Sebastian Boenisch, Mats Hummels, Fabian Johnson, Gonzalo Castro, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Sandro Wagner.