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UEFA U21 Championship

Not your average footballer: Germany's vespa-driving vegan hero Waldschmidt making history at Under-21 Euros

4:36 am AEST 28/6/19
Luca Waldschmidt Germany Romania U21s
The Freiburg forward scored twice in Thursday's dramatic 4-2 win over Romania in Bologna to take his tournament tally to a record-equalling seven

Luca Waldschmidt is not your average footballer.

The Germany Under-21 international is quiet and assuming, a vegan that rarely makes headlines. He doesn not even drive a fancy car, instead turning up for training at Freiburg on a Vespa.

"Luca is such a normal guy," according to his team-mate at both club and international level, Robin Koch. "Totally grounded. In football, that is very rare.

"Even if he scored three times, he won't change his behaviour."

Which is nice to hear, because Waldschmidt has now scored a record-equalling seven times in just four appearances at the European Under-21 Championship.

With his most recent strikes, he earned his country a place in the final with a thrilling 4-2 victory over Romania in an absorbing encounter in a sun-baked Bologna on Thursday evening.

The reigning champions had appeared to be heading out at half-time, trailing 2-1 to a rampant Romania side who were being roared on by a raucous, 10,000-strong travelling support.

Indeed, they should have been two goals down at the break but Alexander Nubel pulled off a stunning reaction save to keep out a powerful header from Romania's all-action No.9 George Puscas.

The Palermo forward, who sparked transfer talk with his barnstorming performances during his country's historic run to the last four, had already scored twice at the point, cancelling out Nadiem Amiri's opener with a penalty before nodding the tournament's surprise package into the lead.

Ianis Hagi, the sone of the iconic Gheorghe, had won his side the spot-kick but the No.10 then gifted a wiltering Germany side a way back into the game just after the break, when he needlessly pulled back Mahmoud Dahoud on the edge of the area.

It was, as the rightly proud but understandably crestfallen Romania coach Mirel Radio admitted in his post-match press conference, a foul that "changed the entire story of the game".

Waldschmidt managed to beat Iaonu Radu from the spot - even though the goalkeeper got his left hand to the ball - and then, after squandering an excellent close-range opportunity to win the game with seven minutes remaining, he converted another set-piece in the dying seconds of normal time.

It was by no means pretty, with the Germany No.10 finding the back of the net with a low free kick that somehow snuck under the Romanian wall before then striking Radu's left post on its way in.

Amiri's subsequent set-piece striker - which came after Alexandru Pascanu had been sent off for desperately hauling down Lukas Nmecha - was far easier on the eye but there was no denying that the game belonged to Waldschmidt - again.

There had been little hype surrounding the 23-year-old coming into the tournament but he is now being linked with a move to Serie A side Lazio.

It's easy to understand why. He is technically excellent, more than comfortable dropping deep to pick up the ball, and has a fantastic left foot, as he underlined with his stunning strike against Austria in the group stage.

With his double against Romania, he has now scored in four consecutive games and, on Sunday, against either Spain or France, will have the chance to break Marcus Berg's record of seven goals at a single Under-21 Euros.

He really isn't your average footballer.