Ince: Serbia incident made us stronger
England Under-21s winger Tom Ince has praised the support shown towards the Young Lions following their clash with Serbia last month as critical to helping the team grow.
Ince, 20, was part of the England side which defeated Serbia 1-0 in October to qualify for next year's Under-21 Euro Championship, although the win was marred by accusations of racial abuse resulting in clashes after full-time.
The Blackpool youngster admits the match was one of the toughest of his careers, but he says England's unity ensured the incident was appropriately dealt with.
"Personally, as a player, yes [that was the hardest day of my life]," Ince said. "But although it maybe wasn't a great experience, it was nice to know that I have experienced that kind of football in that country.
"We knew it was going to be hostile, but we all went out there together, stood strong, helped each other and we were with each other 100%. There is not one person who would want to have to deal with that situation again and you just have to make sure you are in the right frame of mind when those situations do come. I think everyone in an England shirt did that."
Both the Serbian and English Football Associations were charged over the post-game confrontation, with Ince refusing to weigh in on whether the punishment was enough.
"It's not down to us as players to speak about that," he said. "If they [Serbia] get a fine then great - if not, then it is not going to change how us players play.
"For every black player who has experienced that, or was out there in Serbia, it's not a great feeling, of course. But we're footballers, we do what we do on the pitch and our main concern was getting that 1-0 win."
The Young Lions face Northern Ireland in a friendly on Tuesday night at Bloomfield Road, the home ground of Ince's Blackpool.
"It's great to have it up in Blackpool," he said. "It's a fantastic place which has seen great success over the years, and I'm sure it will be a good atmosphere at Bloomfield Road.
"I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for Blackpool. I've been given the opportunity to play week in, week out at a very high level in the Championship. It is flattering to have all that interest. It's great - it shows you are playing good football and are in good form. But at the moment my focus is on playing for Blackpool."
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.