Germany Under-21s lifted the 2017 UEFA European U-21 Championship thanks to a 1-0 victory over Spain, with Maximilian Arnold and Yannick Gerhardt happy with how their side overcame an underdog tag to win the final.
The pair both credited team spirit for the successful campaign, while also projecting a bright future for the young players who helped Germany win their first U-21 trophy in eight years.
Germany captain Arnold was impressed with how the squad bonded throughout the tournament, defeating the highly-fanced Spaniards despite their opponents boasting many senior internationals.
"In Germany, we always work as a team," Arnold told Goal. "We play together and no person is any higher than another one. And that was our key to victory today, too. We knew about individual quality of players like [Marco] Asensio, Saul [Niguez] or [Sandro] Ramirez, and many others, but now we showed everyone in the world that Germany are also a good team.
"We have played five games in 12 days and we just grew closer and closer, and triumphed in the end. It was not a matter of individual quality of our players, of some skills of, for example, Max Meyer or Serge Gnabry. And that’s really important to get any success: to work together as a collective.’
Wolfsburg team-mate Gerhardt was impressed with the unity of the squad, guided by manager Stefan Kuntz, whose tactics nullified the threat of Spain's key players in the final.
"I think that, first at all, we showed a great team spirit," Gerhardt told Goal. "We knew Spain has a lot of individually great players and they also were the favourites before the match.
"Of course, you need quality players. The quality has already been there, but the different thing about Germany at big tournaments is that they are always able to show their maximum and their team spirit, and then you can beat everyone. Exactly like against Spain. We knew they were favourites, they might have had the best player (of the tournament) in the team. We helped each other to take them on."
Both players played their last matches at this age group, and now will look to win more caps with Joachim Low's Germany senior side. Both players have one appearance each, but are aware of the difficulties of getting into the senior squad.
Gerhardt believes that the U-21 victory shows the strength coming up through the ranks of Die Mannschaft, and thinks they have a lot of potential.
"Today, the limit was European Championship," the 23-year-old continued. "The biggest thing you could have reached was this trophy, because it was the last game for this Under-21 team and we will not play together any more. Of course, I am sad due to the fact that my time in the youth is over, but I am pleased it finished with the cup. I see a lot of quality players in my team. I think that Germany has a lot of potential in the future and I think we can be proud of this."
Despite Gerhardt's optimism, Arnold is acutely aware of the strength in depth that Germany have heading into next year's World Cup, but is cautiously optimistic that some of the U-21 champions can progress to the next level.
"It is very difficult for us," Arnold admitted. "We have a national team with unbelievable quality. You just could have seen that at Confederations Cup: they went there in fact with a B-team and they are now in the final. And that’s amazing. That’s a reason why it will be very difficult for us to break through. However, we will see what happens in the future."