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2013: Sandie Toletti

France playmaker Sandie Toletti scored the breakthrough goal in the Llanelli showpiece against England to avoid being on the losing side in her third UEFA competition final.

France No10 Sandie Toletti carries both the trophy and team-mate Faustine Robert
France No10 Sandie Toletti carries both the trophy and team-mate Faustine Robert ©Sportsfile

If Sandie Toletti was one of the few ever-presents in France's lineup at the 2013 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, she more than justified that status in south-west Wales.

Her performance over the fortnight was exemplified by the one-woman assault she led on the England penalty area during the somehow goalless first half of the Parc y Scarlets final against England on 31 August. The classy No10 was both creator and executor of France's first two chances, before drifting another shot just wide and having a fourth attempt cleared off the line.

The 18-year-old playmaker had also hit a post from distance in the opening Group A game between the cross-Channel rivals, yet her fortune finally changed five minutes into extra time of the Llanelli decider when her header from a corner deflected up off a defender and past England's hitherto unbeatable keeper Elizabeth Durack.

The goal heralded a 2-0 triumph for Gilles Eyquem's team and was her third strike of the tournament. The Montpellier Hérault SC prospect had put France 2-1 up against Denmark on matchday two, stroking in after the Danes failed to clear a cross from France's other blonde-haired attacker Claire Lavogez. That eventual 3-1 win at Stebonheath Park was followed by a 3-0 victory over Wales in Haverfordwest, where Toletti broke the hosts' resistance with a high long-range drive.

Just as happy holding the ball up as running at opponents at pace, the technically adept Toletti mixed fine touches with tireless endeavour. Her haul of three goals and an assist from five starting appearances thoroughly merited a winners' medal to accompany her success in skippering Les Bleuettes to glory at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan in October 2012.

Goalkeeper Solène Durand said of her colleague: "Sandie creates chances, gives everything for the team and seems to prefer supplying goals to scoring them. She also has a very distinctive scream that everybody loves!"

Toletti herself rued France's inability to take their opportunities in that first half against England – but said that in the end "mental strength was the key". For France's golden girl, it was a case of third time lucky in continental finals: she had captained the side that lost the European Women's U17 title on penalties to Germany in June 2012, having also played in the 2011 reverse to Spain in the month she turned 16.

That Germany defeat was, of course, avenged by Toletti and company in the Llanelli semi-final – and thanks to the No10's persistence at the same venue three days later, the rest is history.

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