5 world class players who first impressed at the U-21 European Championship
The UEFA European Under-21 Championship is held every two years – a biennial competition that has taken place since 1978 – and it sees teams from around Europe send their best youth talents. It is the breeding ground for world class players that go on to enjoy a period of success over the next decade or so.
The 2017 edition has already seen a number of players show their potential such as Spain’s Saul Niguez and Marco Asensio – already established players at the two esteemed La Liga clubs Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid respectively.
These two players are assured of stellar careers as long as they live up to the potential they have shown so far. We look at five other players who impressed at the U-21 Euros before making their mark in Europe.
5) Manuel Neuer – Germany
Back then, the U-21 Euros was an eight-team affair with four teams split into two groups. Germany were in the same group as England, Spain and Finland and actually finished second in the group behind the Three Lions.
Neuer had managed to keep two clean sheets against Spain and Finland. It was England who first breached his goal through a strike from a young Jack Rodwell (who has since lost his way following a couple of questionable transfers) in a 1-1 draw.
However, Neuer did not concede another goal in the tournament again. Die Mannschaft first beat Italy 1-0 in the semi-finals before meeting England in the final, where Stuart Pearce’s side were the only other undefeated team.
Germany went on to thrash England 4-0 as Neuer kept a clean sheet against a side that had scored eight goals in the four games prior to the final.