Football: 'Diamond in the rough' Doku repays Martinez's faith

Football: 'Diamond in the rough' Doku repays Martinez's faith

UEFA European Under-17 Championship - Group C - Belgium v Denmark
Belgium's Jeremy Doku (left) in action with Denmark's Mikkel Lassen. (Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff)

BRUSSELS: Belgium cruised to a 5-1 Nations League victory over Iceland in Brussels on Tuesday (Sep 8), another seemingly routine win in their run of 12 victories in a row, but one which could be remembered in years to come for a debut international goal from Jeremy Doku.

The teenage forward was a surprise selection by coach Roberto Martinez, but after the game was described as a "diamond in the rough" by midfielder Kevin de Bruyne as he capped his first national team start with the team’s fifth goal.

"A lot of people said I was too young and didn't deserve it. Well, this was for them," a confident Doku told reporters. "Rest assured, I will do that several more times. I am happy that I was able to show what I can do."

Belgium came from behind to lead 2-1 at the break and Doku admits the opening period went by in a blur as he struggled to assert himself.

"I wasn't myself. I wasn't sure how to position myself, where to run. It should be better next time."

But after rifling the ball into the net from 15 yards with 10 minutes to go, he emphatically confirmed his potential.

Martinez admits he had not initially intended to select the 18-year-old, but was so impressed by his quality in training in the days leading up to the match that he changed his mind.

"Sometimes you have to be patient. Replacing him at half time was not an option," Martinez said. "And then you see his second half. It was not normal how he performed in that he played really smart."

De Bruyne was quick to add his praise.

"He is nimble, fast and he can dribble. Of course, he sometimes makes a mistake, but who doesn't? He is a diamond in the rough."

Source: Reuters

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