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Gerard hungry for Under-17 title

Published: Wednesday 26 May 2010, 11.36CET
FC Barcelona winger Gerard starred with two goals in the 2-0 defeat of Portugal that took Spain into Thursday's semi-final with Turkey and warned that he is "here to win this championship".
by Paul Saffer
from Triesenberg
Gerard hungry for Under-17 title
Gerard relaxes at Spain's Triesenberg base ©Sportsfile
Published: Wednesday 26 May 2010, 11.36CET

Gerard hungry for Under-17 title

FC Barcelona winger Gerard starred with two goals in the 2-0 defeat of Portugal that took Spain into Thursday's semi-final with Turkey and warned that he is "here to win this championship".

Winger Gerard is following in a fine bloodline at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship and as Spain face Turkey in Thursday's semi-final in Vaduz intends to maintain that tradition.

Since the first U17 championship in 2001/02, Spain have reached four finals, and are the only side to win the trophy more than once, following on from a dominant record in the former U16 event. However, last season as holders, Spain exited in the group stage with three 0-0 draws. This time they have picked up maximum points in that round, Gerard scoring twice in Monday's 2-0 defeat of Portugal.

"I've watched these tournaments when I've had the chance, and I know that Spain didn't do as well as they'd have liked last time, though not for a lack of trying," the FC Barcelona trainee told UEFA.com. "I've come here to Liechtenstein to win this championship and I'll do everything I can to achieve that ambition."

Last season's side made amends for their showing in Germany by reaching the FIFA U-17 World Cup semis in the autumn, and two memberds of that selection, Albert Dalmau and Marc Muniesa, have been giving the benefit of their EURO experience to Gerard. "They've told me that it's a difficult competition but that if we play our football – because Spain normally do have a good team – then we can win," he said.

Gerard has been on the radar of those looking to the next generation of European stars for a couple of years, and has only bolstered his reputation in Liechtenstein, not least in the last 11 minutes against Turkey, when he first scored a superb solo goal then curled a corner straight in. "I was a bit lucky with the first goal – I went through, cut inside and then was fortunate with the finish as I didn't hit it that cleanly but thankfully it went in," he said. "For the second goal, I couldn't see many of our lads in the area so I just fired in the corner and, luckily again, it found the net."

Next up, Turkey at the Rheinpark stadium. "We had a good start to the group and managed to achieve our target, which was nine points," Gerard said. "Now we are just focusing on training and watching videos of Turkey."

There is no doubt Gerard and his team-mates would love to still be in their Triesenberg base before Sunday's final. "It's been brilliant, starting with our training camp as we had a week together at Las Rozas and everyone got on really well together," he said. "There's a real team spirit between us. And now we're in Liechtenstein, in the lovely countryside, and the results are going well too. Now we just have to try and win the semi-final and final."

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