Spain fell to defeat against England in Saturday's 2017 Under-17 World Cup final despite a significant advantage: Jadon Sancho was not playing for the Young Lions. The winger is the undisputed star of the Young Lions - a status he underlined during his brief involvement in the tournament, which was limited to the side's three group-stage matches: after all, he still found the time to score three goals and supply the assist for two more.
After the end of the first round, Sancho had to leave India. His club, Borussia Dortmund, wanted him back in Germany. His departure had such an impact on England that they flirted with a surprise last-16 exit, drawing 0-0 with Japan before winning through in the lottery of a penalty shoot-out. An unexpectedly close call given that Steve Cooper's men came into the knockout stages having won three Group F games out of three, hitting 11 goals and conceding just the two.
Sancho's early departure from India a show of Dortmund's faith
Sancho's recall by Dortmund is a demonstration of the confidence that the Bundesliga club have in the 17-year-old, who on Saturday made his first-team debut in a top-flight clash with Eintracht Frankfurt. His senior bow had been decided upon, and an international tournament wasn't going to get in the way of that.
Since moving to Germany last summer in a 10m-euro deal from Manchester City, Sancho's sights have been firmly set on first-team football. That's why he chose Dortmund over other major European suitors. In a clear show of self-belief, he has even chosen to wear the number seven shirt vacated by Barcelona's record signing, Ousmane Dembélé: he wants to be the Frenchman's successor at Signal Iduna Park.
Real Madrid wanted Sancho - but only if he played for Castilla first
AS understands that Real Madrid's policy of snapping up the world's most promising talent led Los Blancos to register an interest in Sancho, but one thing in particular didn't convince the youngster: his intention was to secure senior game time, but the European champions preferred to start him off in the Castilla squad. Bernabéu bosses felt it was too soon to be talking about the first team...