Netherlands striker Maceo Rigters spoke of his pride after scoring in his side's 4-1 victory against Serbia to finish as the tournament's leading scorer.
Netherlands striker Maceo Rigters spoke of his "pride" after scoring in his side's 4-1 victory against Serbia on Saturday as the Jong Oranje won the UEFA European Under-21 Championship for the second year in succession.
Rigters rounded Serbia goalkeeper Damir Kahriman on 67 minutes to put the Netherlands 3-0 up and spark celebrations that continued up to the final whistle. The goal ensured that he finished as the tournament's top scorer with four goals, equalling the mark set by Klaas Jan Huntelaar in Jong Oranje's triumph in Portugal last year. Finishing as the tournament's top scorer was as pleasurable as it was unexpected for the NAC Breda striker, who only forced his way into the side on the eve of the tournament. He was a surprise inclusion against Israel when Foppe De Haan went against the grain of Dutch football by playing 4-4-2 rather than 4-3-3, but Rigters' partnership with Ryan Babel ultimately proved decisive for the Netherlands.
"It's fantastic," Rigters said, beaming as he collected the glittering golden boot. "I didn't expect it to be this way, but I'm very glad to have managed this. I want to thank the coach for giving me this chance. It's a great feeling and I'm proud to have achieved this, but it's also thanks to the team, I got some great assists. The atmosphere in the dressing room is fantastic, and I just want to get back there as soon as possible!"
Babel, named the Carlsberg Man of the Match, had tucked away his side's second goal on the hour, his second of the tournament, and was in the thick of the action again moments later when fouled from behind by Aleksandar Kolarov, who was dismissed for the challenge. "It was a hard game, especially the first half," he said. "In the second half there was more space, particularly after the red card, and that made it easier for us. After the second goal we were more comfortable."
Former Under-21 captain Stijn Schaars sat in on the press conference. Schaars had led the Jong Oranje to victory in Portugal last year but an ankle injury prevented him from playing here. The AZ Alkmaar midfielder, however, was delighted to share in the Jong Oranje's continued success. "It's a big moment for them," he said. "I want to congratulate the team. They did a good job, because it's harder to defend the title than it is to win it, and also being at home brings more pressure, but they've done very well. They've played some good games, especially tonight, and I think they deserve it."