When Lukas Artimavičius looks back on 2013, foremost in his mind is the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, in which he represented Lithuania – an experience he described as "one big lesson".
The defender played in two of the hosts' three games in the final tournament and, though all three ended in defeat, he has only happy recollections of the experience. "My favourite memory is the crowd during the tournament," Artimavičius told UEFA.com.
"None of us had played with such a large number of spectators watching on in the stadium and I'm really delighted that people came to watch the tournament and support us. They made it a real festival and we tried our best to entertain them; I'm thankful for their faith in us."
Artimavičius scored his team's first goal of the tournament, but that was not enough to prevent a 3-2 defeat by the Netherlands, and further losses to Spain (0-2) and Portugal (2-4) followed, yet the Lithuania captain found plenty of positives.
"The whole tournament was one big lesson," he explained. "I guess the biggest practical experience was implementing the team organisation and discipline, which is much needed when you play sides like Spain, Portugal or the Netherlands."
Lithuania were unable to reach the knockout rounds yet their efforts were recognised as their captain collected the Fair Play award at the draw in Nyon last month for this season's elite round and the 2014/15 qualifiers. "It was the first time I've been honoured to take part in such an event, to have a responsibility of drawing opponents for my own country. It's nice to be awarded [the Fair Play prize]. We didn't expect to receive it, but we were disciplined on the pitch and also fortunate."
With last season's tournament already a fading memory, Artimavičius has been trying to draw on the experience as he seeks to make an impact at club level with FK Atlantas and Lithuania's Under-21 side. "I hope [the tournament] will help my career," he said. "I have the appearance in the championship on my playing CV and that could help out in the future."
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