In May, the Netherlands won the UEFA European Under-17 Championship for the first time with a thrilling 5-2 defeat of Germany in Serbia. Captain Daan Disveld looks back at the tournament with UEFA.com and the homecoming afterwards: "When we were at the airport, there were press, cameras, family and friends."
UEFA.com: What are your biggest memories of Serbia?
Daan Disveld: When the team won it finally, when we got the cup from Michel Platini. We liked that. And when I think that my friends, my family, everybody, they all saw it on Eurosport. And all the celebrations and then the reaction back home. It was incredible.
UEFA.com: Many people thought that Germany were the favourites, but you beat them in your first game. Did that make you more confident?
Disveld: Yes, because at the start of that season we played against Germany and we lost. And then we grew as a team and I think in Serbia we were better than Germany, because of that development. By the time of the final it didn't matter whether we played Germany again, Portugal or Spain. We were confident we would win. That it was Germany in the final was nice for the Netherlands. You know, the Netherlands-Germany rivalry.
UEFA.com: You had a tough semi-final against England; did you ever doubt that you would win that game?
Disveld: We knew that we would fight and that England would too. I think it was a beautiful ... well, not beautiful but a hard game, and I liked it. We stayed focused on our performance, on playing our football and on scoring – not on the scoreboard or whether we would win. We never looked ahead of ourselves, both on the pitch and off it.
UEFA.com: Which was the most difficult match of the finals?
Disveld: I think Germany, the second time, in the final. It was good for the team that we got to 1-1 and 2-2 – that we managed to equalise after falling behind twice. I think it was a difficult game, but the England semi-final was also a difficult game. We had a good team, and we knew we could win against anybody, but England and Germany, they were difficult games.
UEFA.com: Was there a lot of interest back home?
Disveld: Yes, very much. When you're in Serbia you don't know what is happening in the Netherlands. But you come back and you see all the people – friends, family, everybody knows that you have won the cup.
It's not normal in the Netherlands to appear on TV, on the news, in the radio news. And when we were at the airport, there were press, cameras, family and friends. So yes, it was very good.
UEFA.com: Did you learn a lot from your coach, Albert Stuivenberg?
Disveld: Yes, I think he is a very good coach – and I think we won that final game for him. He always said to us, 'Take each game as it comes'. He's a very good coach and understands what we want as players.
UEFA.com: You won the championship but also the Fair Play prize – is the Fair Play prize very important to the players and to the coach?
Disveld: Yes of course, but for the team, for the players, they want to win the cup. After that it's very good that we also win the Fair Play prize. It's better for everyone to be Fair Play champions – but only after we win the cup.
UEFA.com: And did the coach encourage you to play fairly?
Disveld: Yes, yes. He would say, 'In your head, focus on the ball, not on the player'. He would tell us to avoid picking up red cards.
UEFA.com: You also went to Mexico for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Was that a great experience?
Disveld: Yes, it was a great experience, but it was not a good tournament for us. I think it came very soon after the championship – two weeks of nothing, and then the World Cup. It was very many games in a short time and the weather was very hot and the altitude very high. I think that was our problem. Then against Mexico, in the third match, we had a lot of chances to score – 20 attempts on goal – and scored only once. They had five chances and scored three. In Serbia everything was good for us, in Mexico the opposite.
UEFA.com: What are the next steps in your career?
Disveld: I hope I can play in the first team at NEC Nijmegen. I hope I can make my debut this season. After that, we will see what happens.
UEFA.com: Does tournament football with the Netherlands improve you as a player?
Disveld: Yes, of course. There are not many people in the Netherlands that go to Serbia and Mexico and play there. But we did. It's very good experience for everyone, for the team, for the coach – and yes, for your head it's good. The level is higher with the national team than with NEC, I think everybody goes tak-tak-tak [fast] and not tak...tak...tak [slow]. And with the Netherlands I play with the best Dutch players; at NEC Nijmegen I play with the best players from our area, a small area, the city. It's better that I play with the best from the Netherlands against the best of Germany, the best of Mexico, the best of England.
UEFA.com: What advice would you give to those players who could represent the Netherlands this summer in the U17 tournament?
Disveld: That they take it from game to game. Historically, when the Netherlands go to a tournament, they are already thinking about winning the cup. But now we take it on a game-by-game basis. I would say to the players to focus on the next game, focus on the football and see what it gets you – maybe you will win the cup, maybe you will go out in the group, but focus on the game.
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