The Player of the Tournament was quick to deflect attention for his personal performance and onto his team’s success
Fabian Ruiz cited Spain’s togetherness in overcoming adversity as a key factor in their European Under-21 Championship triumph.
Napoli midfielder Fabian scored a fabulous opener against Germany in Sunday’s final, before Dani Olmo converted the rebound from another of his long-rangers to set up a 2-1 win.
A classy triumph from Luis de la Fuente’s side was a far cry from their opening 3-1 loss to hosts Italy, which left them needing a thumping 5-0 win over Poland in the final group game to progress on goal difference.
The 23-year-old Fabian was named player of the tournament after a superb showing in Udine and he told UEFA’s official website: “I’m delighted to have won the award but winning the tournament was more important.
“We started badly against Italy, and things were difficult. We had to beat Poland by more than three goals. But the side was confident, and we deserved to be champions.
“The key has been to be together – we’ve got a great team spirit. We had to give our best. Germany are a great side and we had to suffer together.
“They’re great players but the 2-0 [advantage] gave us peace of mind and confidence and I think we are deserved winners.”
Success in this tournament caps off a fine year for Fabian who impressed in Naples during his first season in Serie A. He played 27 games and scored five goals as Napoli finished second in the league.
The @SOCARofficial Player of the Tournament: Fabián Ruiz #U21EURO pic.twitter.com/yzmbYogb1s
— UEFA U21 EURO (@UEFAUnder21) June 30, 2019
Germany largely restricted Spain following Fabian’s seventh-minute goal and were entitled to be aggrieved when Jesus Vallejo was only booked for a reckless lunge on Gian-Luca Waldschmidt.
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Nadiem Amiri’s deflected goal in the 88th minute gave them a flicker of hope but it was not to be.
Freiburg forward Waldschmidt finished as the top scorer in the tournament thanks to a prolific haul of seven and told UEFA.com: “We played a good tournament until the final. To lose the final it hurts a lot, of course, but now we have to look to the future and prepare for our next challenges.
“I took many steps forward and developed myself in the tournament, but I don’t think it was a huge difference – it was the result of a year’s hard work.”