Captain Aymeric Laporte has told France to have "no regrets" as two years of work reaches its culmination in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final against Serbia.
The central defender has been the bedrock of his side's march to the final in Lithuania, playing every minute of France's campaign. And with only another 90 standing between Les Petits Bleus and a third U19 title, Laporte is clear on what must be done. "I'll tell the players to give everything for every minute," he told UEFA.com. "We must not let our chance slip away. When a match finishes you can't have regrets: give your maximum. If the opposition are better, there's nothing you can do about that, but you must do everything in your power."
The opposition in Marijampole will be a Serbia side with whom France drew 1-1 in the final round of Group B matches. "It's going to be a tough game; we saw first hand they were a good team and we're really looking forward to playing them again," Laporte said. "Their attack is pretty fast and we'll need to be aware of that, but we're going to do our very best."
"I don't think Serbia will play the same way as they did in the group match," the centre-back added. "We knew a draw would be enough for us to qualify and for them to win the group so that gave it a different perspective. We had good rhythm at the start but as the match went on tiredness came into it and the level dropped as a draw was fine for both sides."
France's defence is in good shape having held off holders Spain in the semi-finals – a result that gave Laporte, an Athletic Club player since 2009, particular pleasure. "I really wanted to win that, mainly because my friends in Spain had something special in mind for me if we'd lost," he said. "More than that, I wanted to show that France are capable of good things, like the U20 side who've just won the World Cup. Spain didn't have too many chances; we stayed back a bit and defended really well."
Laporte returned repeatedly to the idea that Les Petits Bleus must give a good account of themselves in the final. "We want to give a great account of French football – we really care about that," he explained. "As a team winning would be incredible because we've been working towards it for two years. Now we have our chance to take the trophy back to France."
Should Francis Smerecki's side prevail, Laporte would follow Younès Kaboul and Gueïda Fofana, France's captains in 2005 and 2010 respectively, in lifting the trophy, and he admits that is extra motivation. "I asked my parents to travel to the match from France because I want to share this moment with them," he said. "I want to thank the coach for the chance to be captain of this team; he's had confidence in me for the two years I've worn the armband. Lifting a trophy as prestigious as this is a joy I've never experienced and one would give me great pleasure."
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