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2012: Sandie Toletti

Although she suffered final heartbreak for the second year running with France, Sandie Toletti proved to be the break-out star for the 2011/12 edition.
by Steven Rogers
2012: Sandie Toletti
Sandie Toletti enjoys her semi-final equaliser against Switzerland ©Getty Images

2012: Sandie Toletti

Although she suffered final heartbreak for the second year running with France, Sandie Toletti proved to be the break-out star for the 2011/12 edition.

Germany won the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship for the third time in 2012 with a penalty shoot-out defeat of France, but it was the losing captain who perhaps made the biggest individual impact.

Part of the France team that reached the 2010/11 final only to lose to a last-gasp Spain goal, Sandie Toletti contributed six goals and five assists in France's six 2011/12 qualifiers to book their place in Nyon once again. In the semi-final she was the driving force behind Les Bleuettes' comeback against Switzerland to win 5-1, her smart left-footed drive from the edge of the area immediately pulling France level after Paco Rubio's charges conceded the opening goal against the run of play.

In the second-half, the Montpellier Hérault SC midfielder was just as influential, dribbling and crossing to set up Kadidiatou Diani for France's fourth. Although Toletti hit the bar with a last-minute penalty, her side were already home and dry, and she made no mistake from the spot when it really mattered in the final shoot-out against Germany three days later.

Germany started the final intent on closing down space in the centre of the park to prevent the one-touch passing combinations between Toletti, Laura Blanchard and Ghoutia Karchouni that had bamboozled Switzerland. Nevertheless, it was Toletti who found room to fashion the game's first real chance, her half-volley from distance hitting the post in the 13th minute.

In both matches, she was at the heart of some excellent link-up play with French forwards Léa Declercq, Pauline Cousin and Diani, the latter deserving special praise as well for her performances. However, it was Toletti who ultimately distinguished herself from the rest thanks to her superlative technique, movement, vision and dynamism; whenever she got hold of the ball, it always seemed something special was imminent.

France coach Rubio told UEFA.com: "Maybe Sandie wasn't quite at her best in the final, but she really is a class player, a real leader among these girls, on and off the pitch. She knows how to defend and knows how to score; she's a great all-rounder. She also has an excellent attitude, the sort of humility that is needed to progress. I have no doubt that in four or five years' time she will be up there with the best of them."

Last updated: 24/08/12 18.49CET

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