Romeo Castelen aims to take the lead role for the Netherlands in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final after a superb run as a supporting player.
The Feyenoord forward set up Daniël de Ridder for the only goal of the decisive group game against Italy before a fine run and pass paved the way for Klaas Jan Huntelaar to score arguably the best goal of the tournament so far in the thrilling 3-2 semi-final defeat of France on Thursday. After two vital assists, Castelen is eager to find the net himself, especially after netting four in five matches to help the Jong Oranje reach these finals.
"I think I have to keep my goal for the final and help us to become the European champions," Castelen told uefa.com. "It will be a tough game but we are in the final and, after beating France, we can relax a little before focusing on the match. To us, France looked the strongest team of the tournament. They hadn't conceded a goal before. We gave them all the respect but everyone played with their hearts and we deserved to win."
That he did not feature more in qualifying is because the 23-year-old Castelen has established himself as a regular in the senior squad. He has been capped eight times, with one goal, and along with Huntelaar was unlucky to miss out on a place at the FIFA World Cup. He has put that disappointment firmly behind him and is seeking to become part of the first Dutch team to be crowned European champions at this level.
Castelen's commitment to the cause was underlined by the battering his feet took in the Braga semi-final, which left him hobbling away from the stadium. "I had a really tough game. My feet really hurt because the pitch was hard. But if you win, you forget all the pain you have in a game. I think we deserved it, we played good football. We fought and we created chances and I think it was a really nice match to watch."
Particularly eye-catching was that sublime Huntelaar chip from fully 25 metres in the 38th minute. "It was a fantastic goal," Castelen added. "I saw him look at the goalkeeper. I thought he was going to shoot straight away but he waited and then he chipped the ball over the goalkeeper. It was a world-class finish and it doesn't really matter who is scoring the goals as long as we win. It is a little bit my job to help others to score when I play up front but I can also score." Ukraine have been warned.
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