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'This is what I've wanted to do since I was a kid'

Lewis Holtby will realise a childhood dream on Thursday night as Germany Under-21s begin their European Championship in Israel against the Netherlands.

Our 22-year-old midfielder will captain the Germans as they open their campaign against Cor Pot's team, but Lewis believes that the biggest threat in the tournament will be posed by the holders of the title, Spain.

"It’s a tough group, but this is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid, captaining my country to a tournament. We’re up against Spain and all the lads from Barcelona and Isqo from Malaga," Lewis told

"There is always an edge to a match against Spain. As a football nation, they are fantastic and they are brought up to play their football with immense skill but in the last few years, it’s been about England and Germany in this age group.

"Spain were ahead but it payback time now. We can do it with the German mentality, that strength, to wrestle them down. It will be tough but I’m looking forward to it.

"It’s a massive opportunity for me to produce something with my country on a big stage. I’m sure there will be a massive audience."

And with a British dad, Lewis will be keeping a keen eye on England's results with Adam Smith and Steven Caulker representing the Club in the tournament.

"I played against England for the Under-19s and it was a little strange, for obvious reasons. I have both countries in my heart and it’s difficult.

"I love playing for Germany, I was brought up there and it would be fantastic to play England in the latter stages, especially coming up against the lads from Spurs!"