Ronald Koeman seemed in doubt about what gives him more happiness: the letter he received from his grandson or the Netherlands' clean 3-0 win over Romania in the last 16 of Euro 2024. The 61-year-old Netherlands coach praised his grandson's colourful drawings and his prediction of a 3-1 win. Both his grandson's prediction and his national team's performance came near Koeman's ideal, with Liverpool winger Cody Gakpo stepping into the limelight. Koeman called Gakpo "so far the most important player in our squad" and praised him for having scored his third goal at the tournament, reports Xinhua. Turkey Summons Germany Ambassador To Protest Criticism of Merih Demiral’s Goal Celebration at UEFA Euro 2024.

"He is at a top level at Euro 2024. I hope all others get to his level soon," the coach said.

The former midfielder and Euro 1988 winner said his team "can reach the final if we continue."

Optimism seems back for the Netherlands following a bumpy group stage performance. Dreams are growing of a repeat of the Netherlands' triumph at Euro 1988 in Germany, with iconic striker Marco van Basten the tournament's top scorer with five goals, including an iconic volley in the final against the USSR.

Around 36 years later, many see the circle close as Gakpo seems to push the "Oranje" to new heights, again on German soil.

"There is more to come, and I see us at a promising starting point," the striker mentioned. His goal opened the doors to an undisputed victory over Romania taking the Netherlands into the quarterfinals, where they will face Turkey in Berlin on Saturday.

Having joined Premier League outfit Liverpool in January 2023, Gakpo initially struggled to meet his and his clubs' expectations. "I am happy about the support I enjoyed in Liverpool. I took that good feeling to the Euros," he said.

"There is nothing about him one doesn't like. He is a fantastic footballer and a great human," gushed departing Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp.

Just like Klopp, Koeman seems to have fallen in love with his game-changing forward. While following a rather unobtrusive playing style, the attacker can unleash surprising speed and dynamic power, sneaking into narrow spaces. Additionally, he seems able to slip into the role of a reliable supplier of goals for the Netherlands. England Midfielder Jude Bellingham Won’t Go for Surgery After UEFA Euro 2024.

Keeping his level, Gakpo remains the driving source for Koeman's team. "We are Dutch and must play enchanting football. That's the expectation. But we haven't reached our limits yet and haven't achieved what is in our minds," the attacker said.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 04, 2024 03:27 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website