Admired for their glitzy displays and counterattacking panache, Sweden's defensive steel − which saw them concede just twice in five matches en route to winning the 2012 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship − was just as impressive.
Key to that stability was discerning captain Amanda Ilestedt, who spoke to UEFA.com about her leadership qualities, the tournament's five-goal top scorer Elin Rubensson, and rekindled the euphoria of Malin Diaz's extra-time winner against Spain in the Antalya showpiece.
UEFA.com: What moment stands out from the tournament in Antalya?
Amanda Ilestedt: Probably when we scored in extra time, when Malin Diaz made it 1-0. That feeling is indescribable. It's the strongest memory for me. Both for the sport as such and for women's football it was important for Sweden to win.
UEFA.com: Did you still have energy to celebrate?
Ilestedt: Actually not. We flew home at night after the final. So we only had a few hours to pack and get to the airport.
UEFA.com: Your club-mate Elin Rubensson had a great tournament – what is it like to play with her?
Ilestedt: She was in great form at the time. I play with her regularly at Malmö, and during the EURO finals she hit her peak. That was a lot of fun. It's important to have a player like that on the team.
UEFA.com: The win in qualifying against Germany must have a given you the confidence to triumph in Turkey?
Ilestedt: Yes, Germany were huge favourites. We knew we were good and that we had a solid defence. That's what won it for us.
UEFA.com: What was it like being in that squad for two or three weeks?
Ilestedt: It was really important. To keep the focus for a whole tournament, and to find the balance in the heat. To not stay out for too long and so on.
UEFA.com What are your qualities as a captain?
Ilestedt: I'm myself and I make sure that everyone in the group is feeling good. I have good leadership qualities. Turkey was a confidence boost for me when I returned to my club. I felt I could play at a better level even at home. So it strengthened my confidence.
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