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Passlack, Frommann on winning Germany formula

Central to Germany's shoot-out triumph over Spain on Saturday, captain Felix Passlack and keeper Constantin Frommann talk penalties, role models and semi-final opponents Russia.

Germany captain Felix Passlack and goalkeeper Constantin Frommann at the tournament hotel
Germany captain Felix Passlack and goalkeeper Constantin Frommann at the tournament hotel ©Sportsfile

In imperious form in recording three wins from three in UEFA European Under-17 Championship Group B, Germany found themselves somewhat up against it in their quarter-final against Spain.

Though Santi Denia's youngsters had hitherto failed to catch fire in Bulgaria, they found their feet in the last eight, Germany goalkeeper Constantin Frommann twice preventing Kuki from putting La Rojita ahead in the first half.

Canny substitutions from Christian Wück turned the tide, however, the introduction of giant striker Janni Serra, winger Dzenis Burnic, midfielder Salih Özcan and the switching of captain Felix Passlack from a left-sided role to the centre combining to hand the second-half momentum to the 2009 winners. And there it would stay during the penalty shoot-out after neither side broke the deadlock over 80 minutes.

"I'm a leader, so it's my job to support my team all of the time, in every situation, through words and actions," Passlack, of Borussia Dortmund, told UEFA.com. "During the game I kept telling the lads to 'keep going, to not give up' and when it came to penalties I told them to 'stay focused, pick a corner and don't change your minds'."

Safe hands: Constantin Frommann
Safe hands: Constantin Frommann©Sportsfile

The advice was heeded, Germany converting all of their kicks in a 4-2 success that had plenty to do with Frommann. "I don't think there's so much pressure on keepers in a penalty shoot-out because, as a goalkeeper, you can only win," said the SC Freiburg youngster, who saved spot kicks from Carles Aleñá and Óscar. "Before the shoot-out our keeper coach told me to 'keep calm and trust my instincts' and that's what I did."

What is more, the clean sheet against Spain made it four from four games for Frommann at the finals, though the 16-year-old was quick to praise the feat as a "team effort". "We're very compact and everybody does their bit defensively," he added, before citing the current and a former Germany No1 as his inspirations in the game. "Manuel Neuer is awesome. You watch him and try to do some of the things he does, because he's the best keeper in the world right now, but my [all-time] hero is Oliver Kahn. His mental strength was incredible."

Felix Passlack's inspiration: Mario Götze
Felix Passlack's inspiration: Mario Götze©AFP/Getty Images

Passlack – a scorer of three goals at the finals, one behind leading marksman Odsonne Edouard – has earned comparisons with Neuer's fellow 2014 FIFA World Cup winner Philipp Lahm for his performances. "That's a huge compliment, as Lahm is a superb player and a great leader," he said. "He's someone I look up to, but my main role model is Mario Götze. I love his dribbling, speed, movement, touch on the ball and link-up play."

Götze, of course, came through the youth system at Dortmund before a big-money move to FC Bayern München in summer 2013. Also set to leave the Schwarzgelben is coach Jürgen Klopp, so does Passlack fear for his club's future? "A new era is about to begin, so the way I see it, it will be a fresh opportunity for every player at the club. Realistically I feel that I could be training with the first team in a couple of years, but we'll see what happens."

Before that, though, he and Frommann have unfinished business on Bulgarian soil, meeting Russia in the last four on Tuesday in Stara Zagora. "Neither of us have ever played against Russia before," continued Passlack. "I'll tell the lads that it might be their last game at this tournament, so they need to give it everything they've got to try and make the final."

Felix Passlack celebrates one of his three goals at the finals in Bulgaria
Felix Passlack celebrates one of his three goals at the finals in Bulgaria©Sportsfile