The Everton Under-23 side were crowned champions of Premier League 2 after closest rivals Manchester City lost in their penultimate game of the season, leaving the Blues six points clear with one game to play.
Champions! #EFCU23s have clinched the #PL2 Division One title.— Everton (@Everton) April 24, 2017
Congratulations to David Unsworth and his young Blues! #COYB pic.twitter.com/osIX0gXWdI
The Blues had grabbed the League by the scruff of the neck and have been leading for most of the season. The youngsters even had a chance to clinch the title on Friday night with a win, but were held by Chelsea to a 2-2 draw that ultimately only served to postpone the celebrations.
Speaking to evertonfc.com, Unsworth had this to say about his boys -
“I’m thrilled for the young players, they absolutely deserve it. We’ve been chased for a good part of the season. Fair play to Manchester City, they are a quality team but then so are we.
“The character of our group of players was never in doubt. They hate getting beat, our staff hate it, too, and I’m thrilled for everyone, especially the lads.
“It goes to show that this Club is the ideal place to be if you are a young player who wants to develop and progress.
“Leicester winning the Premier League last season proved anything is possible and our team has been hungry for success, hungry to win. All credit to the players are staff. I’m so, so delighted for them.”
Unsworth was in the team that lifted the 1995 FA Cup trophy at Wembley, and insisted that this title would bring him comparable joy -
“It means everything. We put in hours and hours of work and were desperate to succeed. My assistant John Ebbrell has been brilliant and I’m very proud of my staff.
“It continues the feelgood factor at the Club. We’ve got an ambitious owner, a board aiming to get us to the top, hopefully a new stadium, and a manager who is doing a fantastic job and is not afraid to give youth a chance.”
It is even more astounding that Unsworth was able to win the championship when you consider the number of players from his side were promoted to the senior squad on a regular basis, and others who were sent out on loan throughout the season.
The Premier League 2 title is nothing to scoff at, along with the relative success of the Under-18 squad in recent years, and is another important milestone in the development of the Everton Academy. The last game of the season is going to be on Monday, 8th May.
Coincidentally, the final game will be a Merseyside Derby, with crosstown rivals Liverpool responsible for beating City today to hand the young Toffees the title. Everton have announced that the game will held at Goodison Park and entry will be free for Blues to come and celebrate the achievement and watch Unsworth lift the trophy!
.@PLYouth | #EFCU23s final game of the #PL2 season against @LFC at Goodison (8 May) will be free entry for all fans! https://t.co/WEDpcPovhk #COYB pic.twitter.com/QC9slsPCzy— Everton (@Everton) April 24, 2017