As referee Giorgi Kruashvili called time on the final of the U21 European Championship, all the emotions came flooding out among the members of the Germany team. Tears of joy, pure euphoria and quieter, more private moments all made clear what the title meant to Stefan Kuntz and his men. Germany, captained by Herthaner Arne Maier, grew through the tournament; after finishing as runner-up in the group stage, penalties were needed to dispatch Denmark in the quarterfinals. A lightning start saw them to victory over the Netherlands in the semis before the final showdown with Portugal, a team who had won all five games so far in the tournament while keeping four clean sheets. “To get my hands on that trophy is an outstanding feeling,” said Maier after Germany won the tournament for the third time.
[>]To get my hands on that trophy is an outstanding feeling. I am so proud of the team, we've given everything for one another. We really left it all out there and so we've earned this title![<]
Top scorer Nmecha with the decisive goal
It was clear that the title was never a given during the match against a strong Portuguese side. Portugal started well and put pressure on early. Florian Wirtz fired off the first warning shot for Germany after quarter of an hour, hitting the bar and seeing his effort bounce back into play. It developed into a hard-fought final in which the German youngsters netted the all-important goal shortly after half-time; Lukas Nmecha capitalised on a glorious through ball from Ridle Baku to score the only goal of the evening (49’). It sealed the title for Germany as well as the golden boot for Nmecha himself. Portugal searched for a reply but Kuntz’s men stood firm while looking for holes on the counter. Germany won the key battles and saw the game out at 1-0 to lift the trophy. “I am so proud of the team, we've given everything for one another. We really left it all out there and so we've earned this title! I am really proud of the entire team,” said captain Maier.
Germany stuck to their task as a unit to achieve their goals in Slovenia and Hungary. The memories of this title will last forever in the players’ minds – and in the hearts of the fans. Congratulations, lads!