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Griezmann: a best-kept secret no longer

A France star at UEFA EURO 2016, Antoine Griezmann was also a European Under-19 champion six summers ago; UEFA.com remembers him bursting onto the scene.

Antoine Griezmann as part of France's 2010 U19 champions
Antoine Griezmann as part of France's 2010 U19 champions ©Sportsfile

Top scorer at UEFA EURO 2016 with six goals, Antoine Griezmann first came to international prominence with his performances in France's victorious UEFA European Under-19 Championship campaign in 2010. The following appeared on UEFA.com on 22 July 2010.

Relatively unknown in France, Antoine Griezmann ensured himself a place in the limelight by scoring twice and setting up another in the hosts' impressive 5-0 defeat of Austria in UEFA European U19 Championship Group A.

A latecomer to Les Petits Bleus' squad, Griezmann had slipped off the radar of many in his homeland when he left France aged 13 to join the Real Sociedad youth ranks. The winger's stock rose this past season, however, with six goals in 39 appearances as the Basque club won promotion to the Liga as second division champions.

"It feels strange because nobody recognises me here, while in Spain when I go to town all the people I meet ask for a picture or an autograph," said Griezmann, who scored on his U19 debut against Ukraine as well as his first Sociedad start. "But it is an advantage to be a little incognito."

The Macon native is a unique player according to France U19 coach Francis Smerecki. His forays down the left flank have caused many a problem for opposition defences in Normandy, not least against Austria when he netted the first and third goals as France moved to the brink of the semi-finals. "He's a type of player we did not have, a little bit Spanish because of his technique and accuracy in front of goal."

Griezmann, who models his game on new Manchester City acquisition David Silva, is enjoying his experience in Spain. "I feel great at Real Sociedad," he said. "It is a second family for me. I will enjoy playing in the Liga next season, the best league in the world."

Rather modestly, Griezmann described his performance against Austria as "decent", telling UEFA.com: "We thought more about the semi-finals than qualification for the [FIFA U-20] World Cup. Now we want to reach the final and win it because we're playing at home."

To achieve that target, France supporters will no doubt be pinning their hopes on more dynamic showings from the blond-haired 19-year-old, who set the standard for the rest to follow in Flers on Wednesday. As for a happy ending, Griezmann said: "The dream final would be against Spain but all finals are a dream for me."