Even before the marvellous solo goal that opened Romania's account on their UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals debut on Tuesday, striker Fabian Himcinschi had been in the spotlight.
Himcinschi, who turns 17 on the day of the semi-finals in Serbia, received the ball on the right with their game against the Czech Republic goalless early in the second half, sailed around two defenders and shot inside the near post. The Czech Republic game back to draw the Group B opener 1-1, and Himcinschi is now tasked with doing it again when they return to Belgrade's FK Obilić stadium to face the Netherlands, top of the section, on Friday.
"We were 1-0 up for so long, and didn't expect to draw it, we thought we could win, but 1-1 is not a defeat," he told UEFA.com. "I am obviously glad to get the goals, but to be honest I'd prefer not to have scored and beaten the Czech Republic. We have a lot of valuable players in our team and any of them can score goals. I'd be happy for them to do that against the Netherlands."
However, it is Himcinschi who has been scoring most the Romania goals this season, including a joint tournament record five against Liechtenstein in the qualifying round; his seasonal tally is now nine. He had made headlines in his homeland even before that having made his top-flight debut for FC Unirea Alba Iulia three days after turning 16 and making several second division appearances this term for the relegated side.
"Of course that's helped me," said Himcinschi. "Playing and training with the senior team has helped me to gain experience and knowledge. It's also helped me in match situations."
His father Adorian also represented the club, and later coached them, but Himcinschi pointed out: "He was a good player but I started playing football because that's what I wanted to do, he never forced me."
For now, though, the focus is on Serbia and the U17 campaign. "I hope I continue to improve, keep my performances consistent and score plenty more goals," he said. "The atmosphere in the squad is good. We were a bit deflated after the first game because it felt like a semi-failure, but now our spirit is very good and are looking forward to playing the Netherlands."
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