Belgium were last in these finals as hosts in 2007 when a team inspired by Eden Hazard progressed to the last four and lost to eventual winners Spain on penalties. This time they pipped elite round hosts Hungary on goal difference after an initial 1-0 win against Russia was turned into a 3-0 success due to their opponents fielding an ineligible player.
With a core consisting of players like defender and captain Corentin Fiore, midfielders Leander Dendoncker, Deni Milosevic and Joren Dehond and striker Tuur Dierckx, coach Patrick Klinkenberg is optimistic. "It is a beautiful reward for all my players, but also for the members of my staff who did a terrific job," he said.
"We can be satisfied with the work we have done, but we also must show our ambitions for the European Championship final tournament. Not only the result counts – I want to see progress among my players and finally see them break through into a professional squad. From what I have seen so far, I am convinced they can get far in football."
Qualifying round: Ukraine 0-2, Azerbaijan 1-0, Croatia 4-3 (Group 7 winners)
Elite round: Hungary 2-2, Russia 3-0 (forfeit), Wales 3-0 (Group 7 winners)
Corentin Fiore (defender, R. Standard de Liège), Deni Milosevic (midfielder, R. Standard de Liège), Tuur Dierckx (forward, Club Brugge KV)
Coach: Patrick Klinkenberg
Date of birth: 13 January 1963
Playing career: R. Standard de Liège (youth), R. Elan Dalhem, KFC Hesbania Gnoelselderen
Coaching career: Belgium U15/U16/U17
Klinkenberg played lower division football for 20 years and during that time discovered a passion for coaching, which he began three decades ago. He joined the Royal Belgian Football Association (URBSFA-KBVB) in 1999, leading a succession of squads from U15 to U17 level on a three-year cycle. He previously took Belgium to the 2001 UEFA European U16 Championship finals.
Qualifying top scorer
Tuur Dierckx: 4
UEFA European Under-17 Championship best
Honours in UEFA youth competitions
International Junior Tournament (U18)
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