Odsonne Edouard's hat-trick-clinching goal in the 2015 UEFA European Under-17 Championship final against Germany was historic in more ways than one.
By beautifully taking down Bilal Boutobba's pass and running through to dink the ball over keeper Constantin Frommann, the Paris Saint-Germain forward became the first player to score three times in a U17 decider. The delicate chip was also the French Guiana-born striker's record eighth goal of a hugely successful 15 days in Bulgaria, bettering the seven that Spain's Jonathan Soriano managed 13 years ago.
If Edouard's goals set him apart as a finisher extraordinaire, France coach Jean-Claude Giuntini was keen to depict him as an all-round player – albeit a highly clinical one – at the apex of Les Petits Bleus' 4-2-3-1 formation. "He has been very important in developing attacks, finding space between the lines and helping out in defence and midfield, all the while acting like a forward," Giuntini told UEFA.com.
On target five times in as many qualifying appearances, Edouard continued where he left off at the expanded 16-nation finals. His effort against Scotland, the third in a 5-0 victory on matchday one, was a portent of things to come. His header next time out versus Russia settled a tight contest. With France through to the last eight, Edouard was afforded a rest for his side's last Group C outing, a 1-0 defeat of Greece.
Re-energised, Edouard was irrepressible against Italy in the quarter-finals, scoring an exquisite back-heeled double that bore all the hallmarks of a supremely confident player at the peak of his game. The 17-year-old said after the final that his opener in Stara Zagora that day was his favourite goal of a remarkable fortnight.
His strikes did not just come from open play, however. Edouard illustrated his set-piece prowess in the semi-finals, powering in a free-kick against Belgium to give France the lead. Though he then had a penalty saved before the break, Edouard did not hide in the ensuing shoot-out, converting the clinching spot kick after Luca Zidane had kept out three of Belgium's attempts.
Edouard reaffirmed that he was the outstanding player of the tournament with his final exploits. Flanked by the dangerous Jeff Reine Adélaïde and pacy club-mate Nanitamo Ikone, he gave Germany's previously impenetrable defence a torrid time in the Burgas showpiece. Giuntini, sporting a broad smile afterwards, said his match winner can "afford to have very big ambitions".
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