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Belgium in safe hands with assured Mile Svilar

The son of a former Yugoslavia goalkeeper, Mile Svilar is showcasing his talents for Belgium at U17 EURO in Baku – meet the shot-stopper who wants to be "the best in the world".

Mile Svilar is preparing to face Germany in the quarter-finals on Saturday
Mile Svilar is preparing to face Germany in the quarter-finals on Saturday ©Sportsfile

From Jean-Marie Pfaff to Michel Preud'homme, Filip De Wilde and now Thibaut Courtois, Belgium has produced some fine goalkeepers. Mile Svilar, 16, could well be a future addition to that list if his performances for the Red Devils this season are anything to go by. Meet the two-time UEFA Youth League semi-finalist who is being coveted by some of the biggest clubs in Europe.

Name: Mile Svilar
Date of birth: 27 August 1999
Club: Anderlecht
Height: 1.89m

• Mile is the son of erstwhile custodian Ratko Svilar, who was part of Yugoslavia's 1982 FIFA World Cup squad and represented Antwerp for 16 years, making almost 250 league appearances. "I have learned a lot from my father, almost everything," Svilar Jr told UEFA.com. "I have the same style as him, I'm agile and now it's only training that can make me better."

Watch Mile Svilar shine in 0-0 draw with Portugal
Watch Mile Svilar shine in 0-0 draw with Portugal

• Playing in any other position was never considered. "My father had a role [in determining that] because I look up to him. I always wanted to be a goalkeeper. I'm not trying to copy anyone – I'm trying to play in my own way, train and improve."

• That said, he has his favourites. "I've liked Iker Casillas for five to six years, I don't know why. I have some of his gloves and a shirt. Manuel Neuer also because I like his style, he plays football and comes off his line."

• On turning 16 he signed a three-year contract with Anderlecht and has played for Les Mauves et Blanc up to U21 level.

• Belgium have only conceded one goal in their past seven matches in the 2015/16 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. "We have a good defence, a good block, and are well organised. If someone makes a mistake, there is always another player there to help." Svilar has featured in the last six of those games, having missed the qualifying round in Slovenia due to a groin injury. "I was out from August almost until January, but I came back stronger and returned in the elite round."

• There he would play a key role in Belgium winning their group on penalties at the expense of Spain after the teams drew 0-0 in their final fixture, a result that meant they could not be separated on any tiebreak criteria.

©Sportsfile

• "I made two saves, but I didn't know there would be a shoot-out; I thought it would go down to yellow cards. I didn't have a lot of work in the elite round, so that was pretty much the only thing I had to do. We thought the group would be decided on disciplinary points and when one of our players was booked a few minutes before the end everybody thought we had one more [caution] than Spain."

• Svilar has played in the UEFA Youth League semi-finals in each of the last two seasons, losing to Shakhtar Donetsk in 2015 and, last month, Chelsea. He made his debut in the U19 competition away to Galatasaray in September 2014 a mere three weeks after his 15th birthday.

• "The Youth League is one of the best tournaments when it comes to player development. I like it a lot because it's similar to the Champions League. The matches last for 90 minutes [unlike 80 at U17 level], there is a lot of time between them and I like going to Nyon."

• Belgium U17 coach Thierry Siquet rates him as "one of the best goalkeepers in Europe for his age". "Everybody has respect for each other, but when Mile comes into the dressing room it's reassuring." High praise, though there is no danger of it going to Svilar's head. "That's not a problem, I can deal with it. I keep both feet on the ground, work hard and play well."

©Sportsfile
©Sportsfile
©Sportsfile
©Sportsfile
©Sportsfile