Max Meyer was the undoubted star of the Germany team that reached the final of the 2012 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, but it was by no means a surprise.
Some dazzling performances in qualifying, resulting in three goals in Germany's six preliminaries, ensured that Meyer was earmarked ahead of the tournament as one of the players to watch. He lived up to his billing in Slovenia, inspiring his team to four wins before a dramatic defeat by the Netherlands in the showpiece.
The 16-year-old playmaker is currently on the books of FC Schalke 04, who moved him up to U19 level earlier this year after the skilful attacking midfield hit 11 goals in 17 games for the U17 side. Far from out of his depth, Meyer has fired four goals in seven appearances. Back among his peers for this tournament, Meyer hit the ground running. His second-half performance against Georgia saved his stuttering team; his near-post finish on the hour securing the three points.
Meyer and his team-mates then beat Iceland 1-0 to top their group with a game to spare, liberating the livewire forward for the match against France. Goalkeeper Oliver Schnitzler saved a penalty, and Meyer then single-handedly set about winning the match for his side.
On 54 minutes he latched on to Marian Sarr's pass and effortlessly stroked into the bottom corner. Barely 60 seconds elapsed before Meyer's cute finish added a second from Julian Brandt's pull-back. He then played the role of provider for the third, spinning on a loose ball on the halfway line and sending a sumptuous first-time through ball for Max Dittgen to score. It was undoubtedly his seminal performance in the tournament.
Inspired, Meyer was terrific in the semi-final against Poland. Another buzzing, effervescent display had him combining excellently with Marc Stendera and setting up several chances for his strikers. The final was a different affair. Marked out of the game by tenacious Dutch captain Nathan Ake, Meyer showed his skill only sporadically and could impose himself little on proceedings.
After his team fell to a penalty shoot-out defeat, the distraught Meyer spoke little, but perhaps the most telling compliment of the Germany star came from his final opponent Ake. "Obviously Meyer is their best player," he said after the game. "He's quick and very dangerous. My coach told me to stay on him wherever he went and we'd have a better chance." High praise indeed.
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.