A selection of Feyenoord players were the spine of the Netherlands' maiden UEFA European Under-17 Championship triumph in 2011, but at the centre of it all was a midfielder who had left Rotterdam for Arsenal FC a year earlier, Kyle Ebecilio.
The cousin of Jeffrey Bruma, who had previously left Feyenoord for Chelsea FC, Ebecilio came to Arsenal in summer 2010 and on his 17th birthday the following February signed a professional contract. He played a crucial role in the Netherlands' qualifying round success, but a red card in the last game against Ukraine left him suspended for all three elite round games in Rotterdam.
Fortunately, Albert Stuivenberg's side reached the finals in Serbia and the coach restored Ebecilio to his squad and starting lineup. There was no doubt why in the opener against Germany as Ebecilio ran the midfield and, with the Netherlands already ahead, secured a 2-0 victory when he played a one-two with old Feyenoord colleague Anass Achahbar, surging into the box to score, a move the pair had perfected in their years together at academy level.
Ebecilio and his team-mates then beat Romania 1-0 to win their group with a game to spare, allowing Ebecilio to be restricted to a five-minute cameo in the goalless draw against the Czech Republic. Holders England followed in the semi-finals, and against many of his club rivals Ebecilio was the match-winner, combining with Achahbar in almost identical fashion to the goal against Germany and buzzing all over the pitch to ensure a 1-0 victory.
Germany awaited in the final, and against a Netherlands side who had not conceded in Serbia, and barely all season, twice led in a first half that finished 2-2. But after Memphis Depay's superb solo effort gave the Netherlands the lead early in the second period, Ebecilio turned provider when his header was turned in by Terence Kongolo, then secured his third goal of the finals late on – to end as joint top scorer – once again following a sweeping run and swift exchange of passes with Achahbar to make it 5-2.
"This is a dream come true – when we were little boys we dreamed of becoming European champions in the national team," Ebecilio told UEFA.com with the trophy secure. "I grew during the tournament. I worked hard in every match and I am very happy with my three goals and very happy I was important for the team."
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