Phillip Cocu was full of praise for Derby County’s youngsters after the club’s Under-19s memorably progressed to the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League earlier this week.
The Under-19s, managed by Justin Walker, recorded a deserved 3-1 victory over German giants Borussia Dortmund at Pride Park Stadium on Tuesday afternoon in the UEFA Youth League Play-Off Round.
Eiran Cashin, Jordan Brown and Louie Sibley got the goals in an action-packed second half for the Rams to secure their passage into the latter stages of the competition on another historic day for the Academy and the club.
While Cocu and his staff were unable to attend the game in person as they were preparing for Wednesday night’s Sky Bet Championship fixture at Bristol City a few miles away at the Training Centre, they were able to follow the action via a live stream.
Cocu was thrilled to see another big result and performance and the Under-19s will discover their last 16 opponents when the draw is made on Friday afternoon.
“It was a great win,” Cocu told RamsTV when offering his reflections on the match.
“I watched quite a bit of the game with the players from the first-team and the coaching staff before we travelled to Bristol for the game on Wednesday.
“It was good to see everybody sat watching the game and also a great performance from the Under-19s to get a good win.
“I think they are surprising people (around Europe), especially if you play Borussia Dortmund and get a win, who are well known for their Academy with young talented players.
“We know we have a good squad, a very good Academy and a lot of talented young players and they performed well.”
Louie Sibley and Morgan Whittaker have been regular faces in Derby’s first-team matchday squads in recent weeks.
Cocu, however, made the decision for the duo, alongside left-back Lee Buchanan, to feature against Dortmund.
He felt that playing 90 minutes against European opposition would prove to be more beneficial for their long-term development.
“It was a big game and we made the decision to let them play in this game and not be involved in the first-team, where they would be on the bench normally,” he said.
“It gave them the opportunity to play 90 minutes to try to get a good result for the club and they did.”
The Derby boss was also pleased with how the youngsters conducted themselves and added: “They set a good example.
“After training for around six months with the first-team, regardless if you play with the Under-23s, Under-19s or the Under-18s, you still have to give a good performance.
“I think that is also something that is really important.”