Munich (Germany) (AFP) – Robin Gosens could scarcely believe it as German fans chanted his name around Munich’s Allianz Arena in tribute to his man-of-the-match display in Germany’s spectacular Euro 2020 win over Portugal.
“I have to pinch myself, it feels unreal, an unbelievable evening on all levels for me,” said Gosens.
“You couldn’t ask for more.”
Gosens scored with a thumping header to add to his two assists, and also had a goal disallowed after a cracking volley early in Saturday’s 4-2 victory.
His eye-catching performance in only his ninth international cemented Gosens’ place in the Germany team.
He was a constant threat from Germany’s left flank and gave Portugal right-back Nelson Semedo a torrid afternoon.
A win over Hungary on Wednesday in Munich will guarantee Germany a place in the last 16.
Yet against holders Portugal, Gosens epitomised the Germans’ determination to bounce back after losing the opening game to France.
“That was passionate, a huge game from us. We threw everything at it,” said the Atalanta defender.
“If we hadn’t taken the three points, things would have looked very different and we pushed each other.”
– Long route to the top –
After scoring Germany’s fourth goal with a well-timed header after an hour, an adductor strain saw him substituted off with chants of “Gosens” echoing around the stadium.
Having flirted with elimination, Germany go into their final Group F game level on points but with a head-to-head advantage over Portugal, and a point behind France.
On a personal level, Gosens has now nailed down the left-back berth with a performance which stole a mark on rival Lukas Klostermann.
The 26-year-old Gosens took a long route to the national team.
Born in the town of Emmerich am Rhein on the border with the Netherlands, he played for local German teams Fortuna Elten, FC Bocholt and VfL Rhede before joining Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem.
Despite playing for Vitesse’s junior sides, he left without making a first-team appearance and after spells with Dordrecht and Heracles Almelo, Gosens signed for Atalanta in 2017.
He developed so much under Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini that Germany came calling.
He made his international debut last September and had the good fortune to miss out on selection when the Germans were thrashed 6-0 by Spain last November.
Since Germany coach Joachim Loew switched from a back four to a three-man defence ahead of the Euro 2020 finals, Gosens has been a regular at left wing-back.
He scored his first international goal only a fortnight ago in a 7-1 rout of Latvia in a warm-up friendly.
– Schweinsteiger praise –
His substitution on Saturday after 62 minutes against Portugal sparked a witty exchange with team-mate Thomas Mueller.
“Straight after the game, he (Mueller) said to me ‘how can you go off after 60 minutes!?’, but I told him ‘better to go off after a good 60 minutes, than a bad 90,” quipped Gosens.
The truth is that working under Atalanta boss Gasperini, who demands his players give their all and fight for places, has added a tough edge to Gosens’ game in Serie A.
His flying volley after five minutes against Portugal was as striking as his passionate airborne celebration at the corner flag, but the goal was ruled out by VAR after Serge Gnabry was offside in the build-up.
It did not matter to Gosens, who went on to deliver his best display in the Germany shirt.
“He was combative, always dangerous to the opposing goal, that’s what we need,” said Loew.
The performance of Gosens and the current Germany team also impressed 2014 World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger.
“It wasn’t just the three points, but the manner of the win was also great,” said Schweinsteiger as a pundit for German broadcaster ARD.
“Robin Gosens played very, very well – for him a dream came true.”
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