Bian Paul Šauperl showed great poise on the pitch to earn Slovenia a point against Poland on Monday and is no less composed off it.
The beneficiary of a fortunate ricochet after Slovenia had fallen behind, Šauperl needed no second invitation to send the Lendava crowd into raptures and ensure the UEFA European Under-17 Championship hosts got off the mark in Group B. He calmly collected the deflected through ball, rounded Poland keeper Oskar Pogorzelec and slotted into the empty net to leave Slovenia still in the hunt for a semi-final place going into their matchday three encounter against Belgium.
"It was absolutely a highlight of my career," he told UEFA.com. "I was kind of expecting it because I put a lot into this goal; a lot of running, a lot of aggression and a lot of power. It was a beautiful moment. It was a very hard game and Poland were very strong, which was a problem for us. We haven't got as much power as them.
"Being at home is great and I really do hope for the best against Belgium, but of course we need help from the other game [between the Netherlands and Poland]. The tournament is brilliant and of course the crowd is very supportive which gives extra power to us. We'll both have to win [on Thursday] so I am expecting a really good game. We have got lots of motivation and of course I hope to take us through to the semi-finals."
A place in the last four would mark another step up for Šauperl and his team-mates, who did not have to negotiate qualifying in order to be in the finals and have been taken aback by the quality of their opponents. "The level is so much higher than what I am used to," said the No9. "All of the teams we have played before were not at such a level. It really is hard but we just have to get used to it if we want to be here.
"The defenders are much better and they are much stronger but that's cool with me. My priorities are running fast, staying strong and finding space. If I use my speed and get into space, I can overcome their qualities."
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