Whether Serbia reach the UEFA European Uncer-17 Championship semi-finals or not, Uroš Radaković is in no doubt over the impact the competition has had on both he and his country.
The hosts opened their campaign with a 3-2 defeat by Denmark, but subsequently found their stride with a 1-1 draw against France. While they must rely on Les Mini-Bleus not to beat Group A winners Denmark to retain hope of reaching the semi-finals, Serbia know a draw against England in Indjija on Monday would secure them at least third place and a FIFA U-17 World Cup berth.
Whatever the outcome of the last group fixtures, though, Radaković already has plenty of positives to draw upon. "It's a big honour for Serbia, but also a big responsibility because we have to show ourselves in the best light in front of our own crowd," he told UEFA.com. "I would like to thank all the fans showing up at the game – I would like to thank them for their support and we will do everything we can not to disappoint them.
"Of course the competition has helped me to develop as player. Not only because of the strong teams we play, but also it helps me to learn how to cope with the pressure of not disappointing the fans."
Guaranteed a finals place as hosts, Serbia were exempt from qualifying and therefore entered the tournament with only a series of friendly matches under their belt. "It's a really big difference between those two kind of games because the other teams got used to playing competitively," Radaković said. "That is a small advantage but I think we will be able to show our quality in the third game."
Part of "one big family" in the U17 setup, the FK Crvena zvezda midfielder states his "dream and desire to play for the senior team" one day. Indeed, there is one player in particular who cannot fail to be an inspiration. "Nemanja Vidić: both on the pitch and with his attitude off it, he must be considered a role model for younger players. He shows how they need to behave to reach that top level."
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