While youngsters Jordan Nobbs and Toni Duggan were the leading lights for 2009 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship winners England, it was perhaps irresistible Switzerland striker Ramona Bachmann that shone brightest in Belarus.
The 18-year-old harboured much of Switzerland's hopes as the squad arrived for their first finals in three seasons. She had been rated as one of the finest young talents in the game since being snapped up by Swedish giants Umeå IK in 2007, and represented her country at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup aged 16.
Having starred in a superb qualifying campaign, there was some concern Switzerland would not see the best of Bachmann in Belarus when she arrived with a back problem. It kept her out of the opening game – a 4-1 victory over the hosts – yet any fitness doubts were allayed emphatically next time out.
Coming into the tournament speculation about likely winners among the coaches brought the usual chorus of "Germany", but the five-time champions simply had no answer to the mesmerising Bachmann. Fast, skilful and supremely confident, the pocket-sized forward was simply too good for Germany as she caused problems throughout and scored in a 3-0 victory that ultimately spelt an early end for the favourites.
"At times it was Bachmann against my whole defence," said Germany coach Maren Meinert, herself one of the best forwards the women's game has seen. "They couldn't stop her." Nor, in truth, could the defences of France and semi-final opponents England.
Only a combination of brilliant goalkeeping and profligate shooting – perhaps a consequence of her injury-affected lack of practice – denied her more goals as she almost single-handedly led the line for a tiring Switzerland side. Her tears after the 3-0 defeat by England may have reflected regret for the misses but her glittering displays lit up the tournament, and a best ever finish for her nation and U-20 Women's World Cup spot provided some consolation.
Her rise has continued, proving crucial to Switzerland making the senior 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup play-offs. She was voted Swiss Female Footballer of the Year in 2009 and has had spells with FC Malters, where she was an U19 champion aged 13 and a senior player the next year, FC Luzern, Umeå, Atlanta Beat and, after a second Umeå spell in 2011 where she was Damallsvenskan player of the year, joined champions FC Malmö.
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|The home team is listed first.||Last updated: 29/03/2015 01:27 CET|
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