With one outrageous flick of his right boot in the final, Steven Bergwijn confirmed in sensational fashion the class he had shown throughout the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship.
Netherlands coach Maarten Stekelenburg promised on the eve of the tournament that his side were "typically Dutch" in style. Sure enough, they deployed a fluid 4-3-3 formation, were assured in possession from back to front and relied heavily on a clutch of expert wide forwards. Bergwijn was the most eye-catching of those, scoring and assisting three goals in the Jong Oranje's campaign.
"As everyone knows, Dutch football is always attacking," the PSV Eindhoven forward told UEFA.com. "We are a team that tries to make the pitch as big as possible. When you do this, you make space to play together and attack. If you fail to do this, you get pressured by the opposition more because there are more players closer together."
Bergwijn was both a cause and a beneficiary of this expansive approach. Though he won the penalty that led to the Dutch's first goal in Malta, in a 3-2 victory against Turkey, it was on matchday two, against the hosts, that Bergwijn really announced himself on the big stage. The 16-year-old twice showed fleet of foot to create space and finished superbly on each occasion, firstly with his right boot and then with his left.
Rested against England in the final round of Group A fixtures, he was back in the fold for the semi-final against Scotland. Once more he demonstrated explosive pace to tee up one of the Netherlands' five goals, before getting in on the act with a deflected effort of his own.
Already assured of a place among a list of the tournament's most promising performers, Bergwign catapulted himself to the top of the pile in the showpiece. The Dutch were trailing when the ball was played into the No7 around 30 metres from goal; with almost impudent ease, his first-touch pass fooled an entire England defence and allowed Jari Schuurman to equalise. Though Bergwijn was forced off early on in the second half, he had done enough to suggest a stellar career awaits.
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