Patrick ter Mate's goalkeeping was crucial to earning the Netherlands a point in their UEFA European Under-17 Championship Group B opener against England on Wednesday, but as he prepares to face Turkey in Meuselwitz tomorrow, he admits that he was not expecting to feature in the finals.
The Vitesse/AGOVV academy custodian only broke into the Netherlands U17 side in the Elite round in March, when he kept clean sheets against Azerbaijan, Luxembourg and Croatia as the Jong Oranje booked their place in Germany. However, with previous first choice Warner Hahn back in the squad for the finals, Ter Mate was not necessarily counting on getting the nod to start.
"It is a great experience to be here," Ter Mate told uefa.com. "The fact I haven't been with the team very long is a good thing, it means that I didn't expect I would play, it was a bit of a surprise. That makes it even more special. It is a great squad, we are all friends and I hope we'll be here for the whole two weeks."
His team struck early against England in their first game in Gera, but in the second half the Netherlands were put under pressure and despite some fine saves, Ter Mate was finally beaten by Luke Garbutt with ten minutes left. "It was an interesting match for me with a lot of saves," Ter Mate said. "I am satisfied, the goal wasn't my fault, it was a great finish. I made some great saves, but the result is more important that my own performance of course."
Turkey were beaten 3-1 by hosts Germany in the other Group B encounter on Wednesday, and Ter Mate is hopeful that his side can also secure victory when they take on Abdullah Ercan's side. "We all watched the game on the big screen in the hotel," the goalkeeper said. "Turkey did OK but if we play our own game, with good combinations, we really have a chance of the three points."
Ter Mate idolises Gianluigi Buffon for his awareness and his shot-stopping, and says that Edwin van der Sar "has achieved what few others have in his career he is a great example for all young Dutch goalkeepers". He relished playing in front of a crowd of more than 4,000 against England, saying: "It was a huge difference to our league games, we don't get thousands of people watching so it is a great experience."
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