Coach Horst Hrubesch said that his team had peaked at just the right moment after they became the first German winners of the UEFA European U21 Championship title at the expense of England.
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Coach Horst Hrubesch said his team had peaked at just the right moment after they became the first German winners of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship with goals from Gonzalo Castro, Mesut Özil and Sandro Wagner (2). Despite the disappointment of defeat, England's Stuart Pearce commended his players on two years' excellent work.
Horst Hrubesch, Germany coach
What can I say? I am proud of this team because we played so convincingly and won emphatically. We started well and scored at the right time. I was worried at half-time that we hadn't got a second goal, so was relieved when we picked up where we had left off and got another immediately. The second goal opened the floodgates and made it comfortable. The plan had been to avoid England set-pieces and remove their threat that way. My team hit form at just the right time and did it in style.
You saw my players warming up in blue and yellow tops. They wanted to show how much they have enjoyed it in Sweden. I also have to pay respect to the Sweden team. I always thought I'd rather play England in the final than the Swedes. Because I had a short time to prepare the team [having been appointed in November], I thought we would be the team that improved most during the tournament. We didn't perform at our best until tonight. We were relieved to reach the semis because we'd only had the win against Finland. But by tonight we were on the right track.
It is always up to the players to win a trophy and I have to give them credit – they had a short time together but went about the task with great dedication. They have an excellent team spirit and got their reward. We have many fine young players and credit to the German FA who have invested to improve the situation. There is great co-operation between the FA, the smaller regional FAs, the clubs and the Bundesliga. The result is bright, young, talented players for the future.
Stuart Pearce, England manager
We started brightly and the first goal came against the run of play. It changed the game and suited the Germans to sit back and counterattack and the goal after half-time played even more into their hands. I must congratulate Germany because to win any final is a big achievement – and to win four-nil even bigger. I hope the players learn from this. They are frustrated, but we are among the best two teams in Europe and our aim in two years' time will be to be the best.
The suspensions [to goalkeeper Joe Hart and strikers Fraizer Campbell and Gabriel Agbonlahor] didn't help but we said it would be a 23-man squad and we went into semi-final with 23 fit players. By the final we'd lost three but that's not an excuse. We have to look at the bright points as 50 per cent of these players go on to the next campaign. They've been fantastic and I must mention the likes of James Milner, Mark Noble, even Steven Taylor, who have all served the Under-21s fantastically well. We must march on.
We were picked off on the break when trying to chase the game, but maybe the result flattered Germany. If we'd won I'd have put the result to bed this evening and the same applies now. The players are crestfallen but we've won eleven, drawn three, lost one – our most sucessul period for the Under-21s. It was a harsh lesson to watch Germany lift the trophy, but credit to their coach and their team who have played doggedly in all five matches.
Whether we have a trophy or not, we must look at the good things that are going to improve us as a nation and as a team. I have to speak to the boys about how they've conducted themselves over this two-year period. I'll split them into two groups – those who finish their journey here, I'll thank; the younger players, as I have to take this team on, I will tell what will be expected of them. I don't subscribe to boom and bust. We've lost and it spurs me on to be a better coach and better manager.