The UEFA European Under-17 Championship consists of three distinct stages: the qualifying round, the elite round and the final tournament. The format changed for 2014/15 with the expansion of the final tournament from eight to 16 teams.
The qualifying round, played in autumn, is made up of 13 groups of four countries playing in one-venue mini-tournaments. The top two from each pool progress alongside the five third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their groups.
In the elite round, held in early spring, those 31 qualifiers plus the top seed – given a bye this far – compete in eight mini-tournament groups of four. The group winners and seven runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their section advance to the finals to join the hosts.
In the final tournament the contenders are split into four groups of four, with the front two from each proceeding to the knockout phase.
Further details, including the criteria for separating sides that finish level on points in a group, or after 80 minutes in a match, can be found in the official competition regulations.
Louis van Gaal's hand-picked Manchester United FC assistant manager Albert Stuivenberg may not have the global profile of the outgoing Netherlands senior coach, but those that follow UEFA competitions will be well aware of his prowess.
A promising youth footballer for Feyenoord and the Netherlands, Stuivenberg's playing career was cut short before it had really began by serious injury. However, he remained at Feyenoord for 13 years as an academy coach, helping to bring through the likes of future United charge Robin van Persie, before moving on to their Belgian feeder team RWD Molenbeek and Abu Dhabi club al-Jazira before his 2006 appointment to head the Netherlands Under-17 team.
Despite the Netherlands' admirable record for bringing through talent, the U17 squad had seldom prospered, not even qualifying for the UEFA finals at that level until Ruud Kaiser led them to the 2005 final and then FIFA U-17 World Cup bronze, thanks in part to some fine goalkeeping by Tim Krul. Under Stuivenberg, successes were far more than a one-off.
In his first season at the helm, the Netherlands qualified and in 2008 made the semi-finals before 12 months later reaching the decider, only to lose in extra time to hosts Germany. Already the likes of Daley Blind, Ricardo van Rhijn and Stefan de Vrij had benefitted from Stuivenberg's tutelage, but that was to be trumped in 2011 when a Netherlands team including Memphis Depay and Terence Kongolo beat Germany 5-2 to win the European title in Serbia.
They successfully defended it 12 months later in Slovenia, before Stuivenberg stepped up to become U21 coach, a role he relinquished in favour of Adrie Koster to join Van Gaal at Old Trafford. At 43, Stuivenberg has already aided the Netherlands coach as a scout and analyst in FIFA World Cup preparations.
UEFA.com examines Stuivenberg's philosophy through our interviews with him over the years – and picks out an XI of talent that came through his U17 squads.
2007 "I was at Feyenoord for 13 years as head of youth development. This is a different aspect of developing players. You are not on the pitch every day with the players [as a national coach] but I am also assistant coach of the U16 team so I am quite busy."
2008 "You can see what happens in two years of development with players. Sometimes you have to be a little bit lucky. [In the semi-final loss to Spain] we were unlucky. We actually deserved to win and that's the biggest achievement we have attained this year."
2009 "I know we have a philosophy in developing players. The players make up a team, but the coach makes them into a team, gives them a way of playing. That is not easy, though it works both ways."
2011 "They have improved this season in understanding what it takes to win games, and when you are in front what it takes to keep the ball in possession and not let the opponents come back into the game again."
2012 Explaining why his final tournament training sessions concentrated on match situations, dealing with one-goal deficits or leads, or playing with or against ten men: "This is something the clubs don't always work on. The truly important thing is playing development. In the last five or six years I've seen that most the U17 players have progressed into first-team environments. That is a really satisfying aspect of the job."
Stuivenberg's record in UEFA competitions:
Under-17 P65 W41 D13 L11 F121 A47
Seasons 7 Titles 2 Finals 3 Qualifications 5
Under-21 P6 W5 D1 L0 F22 A4
An XI from Stuivenberg's U17 squads:
Jereon Zoet (2007 & 2008); Joël Veltman* (2009), Stefan de Vrij* (2009), Terence Kongolo* (2011), Daley Blind* (2007); Leroy Fer* (2007), Jordy Clasie* (2008); Georginio Wijnaldum* (2007), Tonny Vilhena (2011 & 2012), Memphis Depay* (2011); Luc Castaignos (2009).
*In 2014 FIFA World Cup squad
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