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Joe on England glory bid

Young keeper talks to the official website ahead of final

19 May 2017

Joe Bursik says that the coaching he's received during his development at AFC Wimbledon has prepared him well for tonight's European Championship Under-17 Final.

Exuding a calmness and assurance that has typified his rise through the ranks, Joe spoke to the official website from Croatia as he gears up for tonight's final against Spain (7.00 pm kick-off).

And Joe was quick to salute the guidance and support he's received from back home.

"The academy have done such a great job to help me progress," said Joe. "I've had messages from Mark Robinson (Academy Head of Football) and Jeremy Sauer (Academy Manager) and that means a lot. The biggest games I've played in before England were in the FA Youth Cup this season and playing in big stadiums was a good experience for this. In more recent times, I've been in and around the first-team squad at Wimbledon and that's helped. Working with Bayzo has pushed me on and also being involved with our first-team outfield players in training too because that gets you used to a fast pace of football. I talked to Bayzo yesterday and we went through a few clips that he had seen.

"I've had lovely messages from Wimbledon fans on Twitter and that has spurred me on. I knew that our fans were like that and I expected it to be honest. It gives you that motivation and something to work towards. My parents will be at the final and I just want to make everyone back home proud."

Whatever happens tonight, Joe, who was raised in Streatham and joined AFC Wimbledon at the age of eight, has certainly done that. However, he is not entertaining any thoughts of England settling for second best tonight.

"It is huge to be involved (in the final) and it's not something I'm used to," added Joe. "Some of the boys here played in the FA Youth Cup Final so that's obviously a help to them. Everyone is ready and we are focused on the challenge. It is going to be played in front of a nice crowd in a nice stadium and we want to bring the trophy home. We've all worked hard to get to this point, but it will mean nothing if we don't win it.

"I am quite calm and I think it helps the spine of the team for the keeper to be like that. I've been away for three weeks in total. It's the longest I've been away, but it's something new for all of us. That has bound the squad together. The training has been really good and the small details of preparation has helped my game. Training has been very sharp with the quality of players we have in the squad and it's been good to be in that environment."

The final tonight is a 7.00 pm kick-off and it will be televised live on Eurosport UK. All at AFC Wimbledon are proud of Joe's progress and we wish him good luck in tonight's final.

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