Romania will make history this summer as their nation's first representatives in a major women's final tournament – some achievement for a country of 450 registered female players.
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Romania will make history this summer as their nation's first representatives in a major women's final tournament – some achievement for a country of 450 registered female players (Germany have over a million).
They are there on merit, too, having accounted for Iceland and 2010 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship winners France to book progress with a game to spare. They then drew 1-1 with the Netherlands, just under three years after losing 8-0 to the Oranje in another second qualifying round fixture. Mirel Albon's side have come a long way fast.
Romania, which has only 20 registered women's club teams, only founded a U19 side in 2003. This was the fifth time they advanced to the second qualifying round, but having made the step up Albon is eager to make an immediate impression in Turkey. "We hope to provide a big surprise," he said. "The fact our players know each other so well, playing together at club level and in internationals, is a big part of our success."
Route to finals
First qualifying round: 7-0 Lithuania, 3-0 Northern Ireland, 0-2 Belgium (Group 9 runners-up)
Second qualifying round: 1-0 France, 2-0 Iceland, 1-1 Netherlands (Group 3 winners)
Top scorer: Alexandra Lunca (10)
Ștefania Vătafu (midfielder, CFF Olimpia Cluj), Andrea Herczeg (midfielder, FCM Târgu Mureș), Alexandra Lunca (forward, CFF Olimpia Cluj)
Coach: Mirel Albon
Date of birth: 02/10/1967
Playing career: FC Universitatea Cluj (youth), FC Clujana Cluj
Coaching career: CFF Clujana, CFF Olimpia Cluj, Romania women's U17, Romania women's U19, Romania women (assistant)
Albon had a modest playing career and also had a spell as a referee, but since 1998 he has made a big impression in Romania's women's game. Holder of the UEFA Pro licence, at club level he has collected eight championship titles and five Romanian Cups, as well as leading both Clujana and Olimpia to the UEFA Women's Champions League round of 32. Since 2007, when he took the U19 reins, he had been combining his club role with work for the Romanian Football Federation (FRF), but in January 2012 he stepped down at Olimpia to focus on international duties.
UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship best
Group stage: 2012
Honours in other UEFA women's competitions