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Pride and ecstasy for Dutch double-winners

"When we fell behind we still believed," said Thom Haye as he and his Netherlands colleagues reflected on the dramatic manner in which they retained their Under-17 crown.

Netherlands midfielder Thom Haye celebrates victory against Germany
Netherlands midfielder Thom Haye celebrates victory against Germany ©Sportsfile

All singing and dancing and flashing huge smiles, the triumphant Netherlands team came out to talk to the press and sign autographs after the dramatic final victory over Germany that secured their second successive Under-17 title. UEFA.com spoke to some of the key players, and two themes were prevalent in their post-match jubilation – ecstasy, understandably, but also pride at the mental strength of the team. 

Thom Haye, midfielder
It is hard to believe we are European champions right now. It needs to sink in. It was tough today, but when we fell behind, we still believed and I think you could see us come together on the pitch. To score a goal in added time is just crazy. I'm loving it.

I saw my cross go into the area and I saw two of our guys unmarked, but they couldn't get to the ball, so I thought the chance had gone. Then Elton [Acolatse] appeared at the back post and finished really well. I didn't get to take a penalty in the end, I was up after Tonny [Trindade de Vilhena]. He did his job so I wasn't needed – there was a lot of tension at that point, with a big, full stadium, so it would have been hard, but I was ready to step up for the team. We all are, whenever we are needed.

Nathan Ake, midfielder and captain
After scoring so late the feeling is amazing. I think maybe that the penalty situation favoured us a little as we had scored so late and had the confidence, but we are always focused with penalties, so it wasn't a problem for us to go to a shoot-out anyway. We watched the clips from Germany and we saw that with the left-footers, the keeper was going to our right, so we put them the other way. 

We are a very strong team together, we always have the power to score late goals and we keep going to the end. Playing at such a high level is always important, and if you then win in the final it is very good for the players – now we can say, "I won the EUROs".

Nick Olij, goalkeeper
I feel fantastic – this is unbelievable, I can't explain it. I didn't have a lot to do during the game, but I managed to stop the penalty, which felt really good. I have to thank my team-mates, though – I can only stop goals, they're the ones that score them. It was amazing to be here, to be with the team and play in this final. Last year I played for a local club in Haarlem, and now I am a cup final winner in Slovenia. It is truly incredible.

Mike Havekotte, goalkeeper
It is fantastic, the best moment of my career so far. It is a really amazing feeling to beat Germany, and in the way we did it. Our goalkeeper – the number one goalkeeper – made a really terrific save in the penalty shoot-out to get us the win and now we are going into the city tonight to celebrate!