Berg shines brightest in Sweden

Having captured the host nation's imagination from the start and set the tournament alight, Sweden striker Marcus Berg was named uefa.com's Golden Player of the 2009 Under-21 Championship.

Sweden's Marcus Berg celebrates after scoring against England.
Sweden's Marcus Berg celebrates after scoring against England. ©Getty Images

After each UEFA European Under-21 Championship, uefa.com staff nominate the most outstanding player of the tournament. For the 2009 finals we chose Marcus Berg as our Golden Player.

The seven goals Sweden striker Marcus Berg scored at the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship set a finals record that is unlikely to be bettered for some time. Blessed with grace, pace and poise under pressure, Berg captured the host nation's imagination from the start, setting the tournament alight with a blistering hat-trick in a 5-1 opening win against Belarus.

Tone set
Sweden had begun the match timidly and fell behind, but Berg's assault on the Belarus goal – including a fine solo run for his first, and a brilliant volley for his second – settled nerves and set the tone for the remainder of their campaign. Berg added two more, one a penalty, in the 2-1 win against Serbia that sealed their place in the semi-finals when another heroic effort almost put paid to England.

Belief
Trailing 3-0 at half-time, Berg's 61st strike renewed the hosts' belief and when he turned and smashed in the equaliser with nine minutes to play England were on their knees. Fortune, though, turned against Berg who hit the crossbar with a looping header in extra time before missing his penalty in the shoot-out.

Blossoming reputation

It was a cruel way for Berg, and Sweden, to end the tournament but both player and team bowed out with heads held high. Berg's eventful summer, however, was far from over. Less than three weeks after collecting the adidas Golden Boot award as the tournament's top scorer the FC Groningen forward had been snapped up Hamburger SV, a blossoming reputation greatly enhanced by an unforgettable fortnight.