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Captain Ake learns from Chelsea stars

Netherlands captain Nathan Ake, instrumental as the Jong Oranje reached the final on Sunday, spoke to UEFA.com about the match and Chelsea FC's role in his development.

Captain Ake learns from Chelsea stars
Captain Ake learns from Chelsea stars ©uefa.com 1998-2012. All rights reserved.

Participating in their third final in four years – against the same opponents as in each of their two previous deciders – the Netherlands are on course to emulate the Spanish team of 2008 by retaining their Under-17 trophy.

It has not been a smooth ride through to the showpiece, though, with Georgia holding firm in the semi-finals despite being down to ten men for more than an hour. The Dutch eventually got two late goals to secure the victory, after which captain and talisman Nathan Ake spoke to UEFA.com about his club Chelsea FC's role in his development.

"It was a difficult game again," said Ake. "After the red card they were defending for the whole game. We had a lot of chances, me as well, but we kept going. Our coach told us just to keep going and not to let our heads drop, because we had 80 minutes to score. So we just kept going and the goals came."

Ake knows his side have had to work hard to reach the final but feels they have improved over their four matches and is looking forward to facing Germany on Wednesday. "I think we've got better during the tournament," he said. "Georgia was tough as we weren't able to play our game. But the result was good and to be in the final again is a good feeling. It will be a big test of our level against Germany, and it should be a good final."

Ake is impressing in midfield this tournament but is also comfortable at the back, just like his role model at Chelsea FC, David Luiz. The Blues' youngster attributes much of his personal improvement to the quality of training in west London. "The guys at Chelsea are at a very high level," said Ake. "I play with big players and have high quality team-mates, and I can feel my own level going up. If you play at a difficult tournament like this you just have to show what you can do, and I think it is going well."

The captain, though, was quick to spread the praise among his Netherlands team-mates. "We are a real close team," he said. "Everyone is friends with everybody else, and I think that is what makes us strong. We are together, we are strong-minded and keep going to the end as we showed against Georgia. Hopefully we can show that in the final."