Hedwiges Maduro and Gianni Zuiverloon both made the final cutHedwiges Maduro and Gianni Zuiverloon both made the final cut (©Getty Images)'s U21 dream team

Friday 29 June 2007

by Andrew Haslamfrom Groningen


The dust has settled on the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, although the home celebrations are yet to die down after the Netherlands produced a scintillating display of attacking football to run out 4-1 winners against Serbia in Groningen last Saturday. reporters covered every game of the two-week finals and, not surprisingly, players from both those countries feature prominently in our selection for the team of the tournament - but who else has made the cut? Find out below.

Goalkeeper: Damir Kahriman (Serbia)
Capped a fine season at club level with some characteristically solid displays, keeping clean sheets against Italy, the Czech Republic and Belgium as Serbia reached the final. Was finally beaten in the 17th minute of the final in Groningen and went on to concede three more, but made a string of fine saves and kept out Ryan Babel's second-half penalty with an excellent diving stop. Solid, unspectacular and reliable, he looks to have a bright future.

Right-back: Gianni Zuiverloon (Netherlands)
The SC Heerenveen full-back played all five of the hosts' games en route to a second successive triumph, and caught the eye with his attacking forays down the flank. The decision of coach Foppe de Haan to instruct the defender to bulk up on joining the U21 side was rewarded with a series of powerful and dynamic displays, and Zuiverloon converted the winning penalty - his second successful kick of the marathon shoot-out - against England to take his side into the final.

Centre-back: Branislav Ivanović (Serbia)
The Serbia captain was his side's more dependable performer with a succession of composed displays. An exceptional reader of the game and blessed with pace and assurance, he may have been on the losing side in the final for the second time but his personal star continued to rise.

Centre-back: Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
One of the few bright spots in a disappointing Azzurrini campaign, the Juventus defender started the tournament at left-back before moving into the centre. The Italy captain was a solid presence at the back and a threat from set-pieces, scoring against England and the Czech Republic.

Left-back: Aleksandar Kolarov (Serbia)
Solid in defence and vibrant going forward, his tournament might have ended early with a 62nd-minute red card against the Netherlands, but the OFK Beograd full-back nevertheless enjoyed a fine two weeks. His vicious curling free-kicks added an extra weapon to the Serbia attack, he scored against Belgium and also hit the post in the final.

Left midfield: Royston Drenthe (Netherlands)
Probably the player of the tournament, Feyenoord's Drenthe plays as an attacking full-back in the mould of Roberto Carlos, but was pushed into a left-wing role for his country and excelled with a series of dazzling displays. The Carlsberg Man of the Match in the tournament's opening game against Israel, he set up goals against Guy Levy's side and Portugal and scored in the draw with Belgium.

Defensive midfield: Hedwiges Maduro (Netherlands)
Began the finals in spectacular style with the only goal of the first game against Israel and was a solid, reliable presence throughout. A diligent presence in front of the back four, his reliability allowed the hosts' more eye-catching players the freedom to express themselves secure in the knowledge the AFC Ajax midfielder was on hand to mop up.

Attacking midfield: Alberto Aquilani (Italy)
The AS Roma playmaker was the creative heartbeat of the Italy side, scoring stunning goals from distance against England and the Czech Republic. An extensive passing repertoire and a powerful shot marked him out as a genuine danger, as did his constant willingness to be involved in every move.

Right midfield: Boško Janković (Serbia)
Although Serbia's game plan was constructed around a rock-solid defence, their attack was capable of moments of remarkable invention, no more so than the RCD Mallorca winger. Unpredictable and inconsistent, he brought guile to his side and scored the last-gasp winner against the Czech Republic that took them into the last four.

Striker: Leroy Lita (England)
The Reading FC striker might have opened the finals with a late penalty miss against the Czech Republic but he went on to score in each of his next three appearances. The focal point of England's attack, his goals almost took his country to the brink of a first U21 title since 1984.

Striker: Maceo Rigters (Netherlands)
Finished as the tournament's top scorer with four goals, and was the only player to win two Carlsberg Man of the Match awards for his displays against Portugal and then England, when his stunning 89th-minute overhead equaliser kept his team in the competition. His coach De Haan said the NAC Breda forward had "learnt more in the past few weeks than he had in the previous year".

Additional reporting from Alfredo Rodríguez, David Baño, David Lemos and John Atkin.

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