For the first time since Mario Götze’s team triumphed in 2009, the German U17 footballers have regained the title of European champion. Coach Christian Wück’s team beat defending champions France 5-4 (0-0) on penalties in a thrilling final in Budapest on Friday. Goalkeeper Max Schmitt from FC Bayern saved a try, Assan Ouedraogo converted the decisive penalty.

Germany had won the only title in this age group so far in 2009, when the selection for the eventual world champions Götze and Shkodran Mustafi triumphed. The German junior teams then lost the U17 final three times, most recently in 2015 with 4-1 against France. This time it was enough for the title. “It was about time that we won this title again,” said Wück. “We are very happy. It was an incredibly close match.” Looking at the tournament as a whole, his team was the deserved winner.

For the youth selection of the German Football Association it was the culmination of an absolutely dominant tournament. The team ended the preliminary round with three wins and 10-1 goals – including a 3-1 win over France. A 3-2 penalty shoot-out against Switzerland in the quarter-finals was followed by an enthusiastic performance against Poland in the semi-finals. With a 5:3 spectacle, Germany made it into the final.

The final started with a moment of shock for Germany: After a mistake by keeper Schmitt, the Wück-Elf could only avoid the early deficit with great difficulty. A balanced and competitive game then developed. Substitute Bence Dardai missed the best chance for the youngsters, hitting the bar with a free kick (80th minute). So the decision had to be made from the spot. There, Schmitt from Munich and midfielder Ouedraogo from FC Schalke 04 became match winners.

With the successful European Championship, the young German soccer players also qualified for the U17 World Cup, which takes place in November and December of this year.

National coach Hansi Flick and DFB President Bernd Neuendorf paid tribute to the performance of the German U17 selection after the triumph. “What a thriller finale! This European title is a fantastic, great success,” Flick was quoted as saying in a statement from the association. “We are very proud of our European champions, who inspired us from the very first tournament game with fast, attacking football, lots of enthusiasm and a very special team spirit,” said Neuendorf.

Flick also praised: “It was fun to watch this team. You could feel their enthusiasm and conviction on the pitch from the start in every game. This will to win, their passion for attacking football, strong nerves and a very special team spirit also led our U17 national team to victory over France in the final.”