The next UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals will take place in the Czech Republic, with seven teams joining the 2002 winners to contest the trophy in June 2015.
It is the first time the Czech Republic – championship winners in 2002 – will have staged the U21 finals, and the country’s first national team event since the 2008 UEFA European U19 Championship. They were selected as final tournament hosts by the UEFA Executive Committee at its meeting in Istanbul on 20 March 2012.
Matches will be held in Prague (Letná Stadium & Eden), Olomouc and Uherske Hradiste. Pavel Nedvěd is the tournament ambassador.
The group stage draw was made in Prague on 6 November:
- Group A: Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Serbia
- Group B: England, Italy, Portugal, Sweden
I chose two players from each team. And here they are.
Pavel Kadeřábek (born 25 April 1992) – Czech Republic/AC Sparta Prague
In August 2010 he made his first competitive appearance for Sparta in a play-off match in the 2010–11 UEFA Champions League qualifying phase and play-off round, coming on as a 61st minute substitute against MŠK Žilina.
In August 2011, having previously only played league football in the Czech 2. Liga for Sparta’s reserve team, Kadeřábek went out on loan to Gambrinus liga side Viktoria Žižkov. He was originally an offensive midfielder, but in the summer of 2013 coach Vítězslav Lavička made him right back. He helped Sparta to win Czech league, Czech Cup and Czech Super Cup in 2013/2014 season.
Kadeřábek made his national debut for Czech Republic on 21 May 2014 in a friendly match against Finland. He scored his first goal for the Czech Republic on 16 November 2014, an equaliser late into the first half against Iceland.
He is heavily linked with transfer to Hoffenheim this summer and he won the Best Player of the season Award in June 2015.
Václav Kadlec (born 20 May 1992) – Czech Republic/Eintracht Frankfurt
Kadlec made his debut in the Gambrinus liga on 25 October 2008 for Sparta against 1. FK Příbram. He scored his first league goal at the age of 16. Kadlec had a trial at Liverpool’s academy in 2007. In November 2012 Kadlec fractured his skull in a collision with Martin Nešpor during Sparta’s match against FK Mladá Boleslav.
On 18 August 2013 Kadlec joined Eintracht Frankfurt for an undisclosed fee, signing a contract due to expire in the summer of 2017. He went back to Sparta in winter 2015 for a half-year loan.
On 12 October 2010, Kadlec made his first appearance for the Czech Republic national team against Liechtenstein and scored on his debut, becoming the youngest goalscorer in the Czech Republic national team history. He was voted the Czech Talent of the Year at the 2010 Czech Footballer of the Year awards. He represented the team at the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship.
In the second half of the 2014/2015 season he played thirteen league matches and scored nine goals.
Viktor Fischer (born 9 June 1994) – Denmark/AFC Ajax
After playing in the youth ranks for Lyseng IF. He then decided in 2004 to move to AGF and then later FC Midtjylland in his native Denmark, Fischer joined AFC Ajax in 2011. He had attracted interest from other clubs as well, such as Chelsea, Inter Milan, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Fischer has represented Denmark at U16, U17, U19 and U21 level as well as senior level. While playing for the U17 squad, he was able to score 20 goals in 30 matches. He was also a part of the Danish U17 squad that made it to the semi-final of the U17 European championship 2011, before bowing out to Germany in a 0-2 loss.
14 November 2012 he got his international debut on senior level, when he came on as a substitute in a game against Turkey.
On 18 February 2013 Fischer had extended his contract with Ajax until 2017. He played 51 league matches and scored 16 goals in last three seasons for Ajax.
Yussuf Yurary Poulsen (born 15 June 1994) – Denmark/RB Leipzig
Yussuf Poulsen played for Lyngby Boldklub first team from 2011 to 2013. He scored 11 goals in 35 appearances. In July 2013, Poulsen signed a four year deal for RB Leipzig, which was promoted to the 2. Liga in Germany in 2014.
Poulsen has represented Denmark at U16, U17, U19 and U21 level as well as senior level. He made his international debut on senior level in friendly against Mexico in 2013.
He played 60 league games in last two seasons and scored 21 goals for RB Leipzig. Poulsen is the son of a Tanzanian father and a Danish mother.
Luka Milunović (born 21 December 1992) – Serbia/Platanias Chania FC
He joined the OFK Beograd senior team in the 2010/2011 season, but made only 1 league appearances that season. In summer of 2011 he signed with Belgian Pro League team S.V. Zulte Waregem. He made 12 league appearances in the first half of the 2011/2012 season.
After only 6 months in Belgium he returned to Serbia to play for Red Star Belgrade. On 21 March 2012, he scored a goal against Red Star’s arch rivals Partizan.
On September 5, 2013, Milunović scored two goals against Cyprus U21 playing for Serbia U21 in the 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship qualification. Just a month later on October 15, 2013, he continued his good form in the same tournament scoring a goal against Northern Ireland U21.
After three years with Red Star he moved to the Platanias Chania in Greece. He played 23 matches this season and scored 3 goals.
Miloš Jojić (born 19 March 1992) – Serbia/Borussia Dortmund
On 24 January 2012, Jojić signed his first professional contract with Partizan, on a four-year deal. Jojić stayed on loan at Teleoptik until the end of the 2011/2012 season. During his time at Teleoptik, he scored 14 goals in 60 league appearances.
On 15 September 2012, Jojić scored on his official debut for Partizan in a league match against Hajduk Kula. On 31 January 2014, Jojić signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with Borussia Dortmund in January 2014. Jojić made his first appearance for Dortmund as a substitute during their league match against Eintracht Frankfurt two weeks after that.
After just 17 seconds, he scored with his first touch, a tap-in after Kevin Großkreutz’s shot was parried, to make the score 4-0. It was reportedly the fastest goal scored by a Bundesliga debutant, though four seconds too slow to be the fastest by a substitute.
Jojić played for the Serbian national under-19 team at the 2011 UEFA European Championship, where he also managed to score once in the team’s tournament opener against Turkey U19. Jojić made his debut for the senior national team on 11 October 2013 in a friendly match against Japan, during which he scored his first international goal for Serbia’s senior side in the 90th minute.
Kevin Volland (born 30 July 1992) – Germany/1899 Hoffenheim
He started his career with FC Thalhofen. He played for FC Memmingen one year and for TSG Thannhausen before he moved to 1860 München in 2007. At the start of the 2010/2011 season he was promoted to the first team by coach Reiner Maurer. He played 57 matches in Seond Bundesliga and scored 20 goals.
In last three seasons with Hoffenheim he played 99 league matches and scored 25 goals from winger position. He played for Germany U17, U18, U19, U20 and U21 level. He scored nine goals in 18 matches for U21 squad.
He was called up to the Germany senior nationl team for the first time on 8 May 2014 and was also included in Germany’s preliminary 30-man roster for the World Cup in Brasil last year.
He is a captain of Germany U21 squad for the EURO Under-21 in Czech Republic.
Maximilian “Max” Meyer (born 18 September 1995) – Germany/Schalke 04
He played for FC Sardegna Oberhausen, Rot-Weiß Oberhausen and MSV Duisburg in youth levels before he joined Schalke 04 in 2009. He had absolutely great 2011/2012 season in which he played 15 matches for Schalke’s U19 squad and scored 11 goals and made 11 assists.
He was included in the Bundesliga and Champions League squad for the 2012/2013 season but played mainly fo Schalke 04 II. On 30 November 2013, Meyer signed a contract extension with Schalke until 30 June 2018.
In next season he played 30 matches and scored six league goals. He played 28 league games and scored five goals in last season for Schalke.
On 13 May 2014 he made debut in Germany senior national team agains Poland when he was 17 year old. He can play as attacking midfielder and forward as well.
Harry Kane (born 28 July 1993) – England/Tottenham Hotspur
This player needs no great introduction. We all know him very well. Kane represented England at youth levels, playing for the under-17, under-19, under-20 and under-21 levels. He scored on his senior international debut on 27 March 2015.
He became a regular starter and goalscorer for Tottenham in the 2014–15 season, winning the Premier League Player of the Month award twice, for January and February 2015. With 31 goals across the campaign, 21 of which were in the league, he was also named the PFA Young Player of the Year.
His main goal for this tournament will be to find motivation and if he can play at the same level as in the Premier League. He can become the top scorer of the tournament, but he can also be the scapegoat after eventual failure of England.
Will Hughes (born 17 April 1995) – England/Derby County
I know this player for many years. Of course, mainly thanks to Football Manager. I signed him many times when I played in England, mostly in my saves with Reading FC which is my favorite England club.
He played 121 league matches and scored 7 goals in last four seasons for Derby County. He played 14 matches and scored 2 goals for England U21 squad from 2012.
On 1 July 2014, Hughes agreed a new four-year deal at Derby County, which would see his contract at the club extended until the end of the 2017–18 season. He is great midfielder and I am looking forward to see him play in Czech Republic.
Branimir Hrgota (born 12 January 1993) – Sweden/Borussia Möchengladbach
Hrgota started his career as a youth player in lower league side IK Tord which he combined with competing in Karate. In 2008 he moved to second division team Jönköpings Södra. He made his debut with the first team in 2011 and became the league top scorer that season, netting 18 goals in 25 games.
He completed his move to the German club Borussia Mönchengladbach On 4 July 2012. He made his Bundesliga debut against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim as 74th minute substitute.
On 11 May 2013, he made the first eleven for the first time against 1. FSV Mainz 05. He made a big impact on the game scoring a hat-trick. His first ever Bundesliga goal was a converted penalty. In the second half he scored two more goals, both with his left foot.
He played 17 league matches and scored 2 goals in the 2014/2015 campaign. Hrgota is eligible to play national team football for Sweden, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. So far he has only represented Sweden but Croatia U21 coach Ivo Šušak contacted him during the fall of 2012 in an attempt to bring Hrgota over to his team. In the summer of 2014, prior to Sweden’s game against Austria in the UEFA European Championship qualifiers, Hrgota was called up to, and accepted to join, the Swedish national team.
Sam Larsson – Sweden/SC Heerenveen
He plays as a winger in the Netherlands for SC Heerenveen. He is the younger brother of Daniel Larsson, who plays for Granada CF. His first season in Allsvenskan was a success as he soon got eyes for his fine technique and eye for the game.
In 2012/2013 season he scored some very important goals for IFK Göteborg. Among other things, the equalizer in 90 minutes against Malmo FF at Gamla Ullevi. On August 13, 2014, he moved to the Dutch club SC Heerenveen.
He played 49 matches and scored 6 goals for IFK Göteborg in two years and he played 25 games and scored eight goals in his first season for SC Heerenveen.
Larsson made his debut in 2013 in the Swedish Under-21 football team, for which he scored one goal in six matches. Before that he played for Sweden 19.
William Carvalho (born 7 April 1992) – Portugal/Sporting Clube de Portugal
He was born in Luanda, Angola, but Carvalho moved to Portugal when he was just a few years old. His grandfather Praia and his uncle Afonso were also footballers, and played for Angolan club Progresso Associação do Sambizanga.
In 2004 he moved to União Sport Clube de Mira Sintra, where he was the youngest player in the team and also its captain. He joined Sporting Clube de Portugal’s youth system at the age of 13, making his official debut with the first team on 3 April 2011 by playing six minutes in a 1-1 away draw against Vitória S.C. for the top division championship, then spent six months on loan to C.D. Fátima in the third level.
Carvalho played one-and-a-half seasons with Cercle Brugge K.S.V. in the Belgian Pro League starting from January 2012, featuring alongside several Sporting teammates.
In the summer 2014 he caught the attention of several European clubs, with Arsenal having their £13 million + Joel Campbell offer rejected.
He played 30 league matches and scored one goal for Sporting in season 2014/2015. He represented Portugal in every youth level and he played 12 matches for senior national team as well. He is one of the biggest stars of this tournament.
Ricardo Horta (born 15 September 1994) – Portugal/Málaga CF
He played fo Ginásio Corroios, Benfica and Vítoria Setúbal in youth categories. Ha made his first team and top divison debut for Setúbal on 7 April 2013 in match agains Rio Ave. In thi season he played six matches, all as substitute.
On 9 December 2013 Horta scored his first professional goal, netting the game’s only against Académica de Coimbra. He was a regular starter during his second season, appearing in 27 matches and scoring six times.
Horta signed a five-year deal with La Liga club Málaga CF on 12 July 2014. He made his debut in the competition on 23 August by starting in a 1-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao and scored his first goal on 6 January 2015 in a 2–0 home victory over Levante UD in the Copa del Rey.
He played for U19, U20 and U21 Portugal youth teams. One week before his 20th birthday – in September 2014 – he made his debut in senior national team against Albania. He played 31 games and scored 1 goal in season 2014/2015.
Andrea Belotti (born 20 December 1993) – Italy/Palermo
Belotti started his career at the second largest team of the province, then-Serie B club AlbinoLeffe. A youth team player since 2010, Belotti made his first team debut on 10 March 2012. AlbinoLeffe were relegated at the end of season, and played the 2012–13 season in Lega Pro Prima Divisione, with Belotti as the starting striker of the club.
He completed the season with 14 goals, and gained interest from higher-level teams; in August 2013, recently relegated Serie B club Palermo agreed a loan bid with AlbinoLeffe, with an option to turn the move into a co-ownership by the end of the season. Belotti made his debut with the Sicilians on 24 September 2013.
Belotti helped Palermo to move back to Seria A with ten goals in 24 matches. During his first season in Seria A he played in 38 matches but mainly as subsitute. He scored six goals. One of them against AS Roman in the last match of the 2014/2015 season.
Twenty-one years old striker played for Italy U19 and U20 squad. He plays for Italy U21 team from 2013, he scored eight goals in fifteen matches.
Danilo Cataldi (born 6 August 1994) – Italy/S.S. Lazio
He is a product of S.S. Lazio youth system, in the 2013–2014 season he was sent on loan to Serie B club Crotone, where he played as a regular member of starting XI – 35 appearances and 4 goals.
He made his return in Lazio’s first team for the 2014-2015 season, making his Serie A debut on 18 January 2015, in the match lost 0-1 against Napoli at Stadio Olimpico.
Cataldi is a creative central midfielder. He played as a winger and playmaker in the youth categories but he could play as defensive midfielder as well.
He played 16 league matches this season for Lazio and received three yellow cards. He was sent-off in match against Juventus in April. He is representing his nation from U18 level.