Up until the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final, there were still a number of strong contenders for Golden Player. Italy's Federico Dimarco, Elio Capradossi and Mario Pugliese had been consistently excellent throughout, as had Russia defender Dzhamaldin Khodzhaniyazov.
However, with a nerveless performance on the biggest of stages, combining razor-sharp reactions, dominance in the air, and outstanding shot-stopping, Russia goalkeeper Anton Mitryushkin was the only choice by the time the trophy had been lifted.
After keeping Italy at bay during the 80-minute showpiece – with a sharp response to Alberto Cerri's goal-bound header and a lighting fast save at the front post to deny Luca Vido – Mitryushkin made the night his own in the shoot-out. He set the tone with one of the best penalty saves you are likely to see, flying full stretch to his right to palm away Davide Di Molfetta's powerful low effort, before guessing right to thwart Giacomo Sciacca and Andrea Palazzi.
Three days earlier, Mitryushkin not only saved from Mirza Halvadzic in Russia's epic semi-final shoot-out defeat of Sweden, but also stepped up to score himself, smashing the ball in with casual audacity.
Penalty heroics aside, the 17-year-old's displays marked him out as a more than worthy candidate. Transmitting an air of unruffled calm to his back four, and displaying a veteran-like command of his area, Mitryushkin played a pivotal role in Russia's record of conceding just once in 400 minutes of action in Slovakia.
After keeping clean sheets against Ukraine and an ever-creative and attacking Croatia team, the only blot in his copybook came in the final Group B game against Italy, as Capradossi finally managed a way to sneak the ball into Russia's goal.
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