“We showed Europe who we are” – Sydney FC Academy players reflect on European ascendency 

Sydney FC Academy players have praised their side’s performance after they reached the Grand Final of the BV 04 U-19 Champions Trophy on Easter Weekend.

For a team made up of 16,17, and 18-year old’s, the squad defied pre-tournament expectations, fulfilling their dreams whilst defeating the Academy sides of some of Europe’s top clubs.


Dylan Rose, Will Kennedy and Tyler Williams reflected on their time in Germany as they steered their team to the runner-up position.

“It’s everyone’s dream to be playing in Europe against the best, and once you get that chance, it comes down to what you do about it,” said Williams.

Sydney FC celebrate one of their goals

“Last weekend, the boys took it another step, and we showed Europe who we are,” he continued.

“It was an experience that opened me up to what the football world was like.”

Kennedy agreed: “It was very eye opening, we all realised that we cannot only compete; we can do a lot better.

“A lot of Australian footballers put European footballers on a pedestal, but we showed that we could compete with them.”

Sydney FC Academy in action against Fortuna Dusseldorf

The Academy sides usual NPL fixtures, are a bit different to the Champions Trophy, as the Sky Blues side plays against men every week, whilst the competition was for U-19s only. 

“It was a bit of a shock,” Kennedy continued.

“They’re quick with the ball, but they aren’t as physical as we are used to.

“To be honest, our boys aged 16, and 17, looked stronger and quicker than them because we usually play against men week in and week out.”

The players explained that the most memorable game of the competition came against Borussia Mönchengladbach in the semi-final where they won in a thrilling 3-2 match. 

Sydney FC in action

The Sky Blues overturned a 2-0 deficit with only 25 minutes to play.

“There’s nothing better than coming back for a semi-final after two goals behind in the first half.

“It was the most meaningful game we played.

“We had 25 minutes to turn it around, and our striker Bailey Callaghan scored two goals, and then Jacob scored an absolute world-class goal from outside the box.

All matches were hotly contested

“You could tell from the three goals scored that we had a good team commitment, which really pushed us on, and that sums up who we are as a team.”

The Academy side played English Premier League Everton’s Academy team in the Final.

“It was the same as every other game; it’s still football,” said Rose.

“We went out there and did our thing, the boys gave everything but we just didn’t get the result.”

In action against Mainz 05

Rose also scored a match-winning goal against FC Nordsjælland, which set up the Sky Blue Academy’s first win of the tournament and third win against European opposition.

The midfielder found the ball at his feet and struck it into the right side of the net following a deflection to send Sydney FC 2-1 up.

“It really was adrenaline pumping to describe it. We needed that win to kickstart our tournament.

“We used that win to push together and make that run towards the finals.”

Tyler recounted his time playing against FSV Mainz, which was the match following the Royal Charleroi win.

Sky Blues dejected after losing out on penalties against Everton

The Sky Blues recorded their first clean sheet against a European outfit, when they prevailed 2-0.

“The game finished, and we looked at each other, and we’re like, we can keep a clean sheet for the rest of this tournament because they were one of the best teams here.

“And it just gave a real confidence boost for everyone in the backline that we can stick together and we work as a unit. We can do anything we want”, the defender said.

With two pre-tournament friendlies, and six competition fixtures, the Sydney FC Academy had to play eight games in the space of seven days.

But Kennedy was adamant that despite the physical challenges, it was the mental ones which were hardest to overcome.

“In the finals, I could feel the hamstrings going a bit.

“But being able to play a mentally draining game for 25 minutes and then go to a hotel and then come back and do another one and win games was more exerting on the mental side”, the midfielder said.

Sydney FC Director Han Berger praised the academy side and their performance in Germany.

The youngest-ever head coach of a club side in the Netherlands commended the team for their results and energetic style of play in the tournament.

 “Our boys won games against older and physically stronger teams with the Sydney FC style of attacking, proactive football.

 “It rightfully received lots of praise.

 “There were some strong participants, mainly from Germany, and it was an impressive performance from our boys,” Berger said.

Sydney FC will return to Australia on Friday night, and will play in the NPL against Blacktown City on Sunday at 3pm.