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England football supporters urged to support Poland!!

Euro 2008: Why Poland should be our team

With just two gentle friendlies against the United States and Trinidad & Tobago left to negotiate before the end of the season, it would be no surprise if the thoughts of England's top players were already drifting towards their holidays.

As the rest of Europe's top footballing nations gear up for the start of Euro 2008, the main event for Fabio Capello's squad this summer is likely to be Wayne Rooney's wedding.

But before despair sets in among England football fans as they consider whether to eye the order of play at Wimbledon, the Daily Telegraph has identified an alternative.

Poland may not start the tournament in Switzerland and Austria next month as favourites - in fact Leo Beenhakker's squad are considered one of the weakest to qualify for a major competition for years - but with an estimated two million Poles now living and working in Britain, it is the closest we have to a home side.

According to a report by the UK Border Agency, more than 500,000 Poles have successfully applied for permits to work in Britain between May 2004 and March 2008. The real number is much, much higher than that however, once self-employed workers such as builders and plumbers are taken into account.

Since the Second World War, Polish communities have spread across London and the rest of the country. Banks now advertise in Polish while in some parts of the country road signs include Polish translations. Blackpool's local paper even has its own website in Polish.

In contrast the Polish influence in English football is marginal, to say the least. Only three members of Beenhakker's provisional group of 31 players for Euro 2008 earn their living here. Goalkeepers Lukasz Fabianski at Arsenal and Manchester United's Tomasz Kuszczak, plus Southampton forward Marek Saganowski. Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boric completes the British connection, but unlike large numbers of their compatriots, the vast majority ply their trade closer to home.

Despite Polish football's limited impact on the Premier League, the country has a proud and rich footballing heritage.

While it is tempting to think that it all began with Jan Tomaszewski stopping England at Wembley in 1973, it was an early autumn evening in Munich the previous year that really changed Poland as a football nation.

Without Tomaszewski as yet, but with most of the rest of the first-choice side already in place, Olympic gold was secured with a 2-1 victory in the final against Hungary.

The confidence from that win inspired the exploits against England and a first qualification for the World Cup finals since 1938. Getting third place at that 1974 tournament was an almost unbelievable bonus. Another finish in third at the 1982 finals put Poland among the established nations of the world game.

That weight of history has proved to be a burden as well as an inspiration and though the finals of the World Cup is a well-travelled route, this is the first time the Poles have reached the European Championship finals - nice timing with Euro 2012 being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

Qualification, which came as group winners and with a game to spare, has justified the appointment of Beenhakker as their first foreign coach. His achievement is all the more remarkable given the lack of top-class players at his disposal. In terms of internationally recognised players, this may be the worst Polish team ever. But unlike England, at least they are there.

Kinga wants to call time on Germany

Kinga Baran is 23 and originally comes from the Polish town of Wabrzezno, not far from Torun which was, she is proud to point out, the home of the great astronomer Copernicus. Kinga now lives in White City in west London, one of many thriving Polish communities in the capital.

She works as a barmaid at the Grosvenor Hotel in Victoria, and in her spare time is studying English. Later she plans to study business or psychology. "I love it here in London," she said. "I enjoy meeting so many different people in my work at the hotel, and I'm getting a lot out of my studies." Kinga does not profess to be an expert on football, but when Poland matches are on television her enthusiasm is unrestrained.

"I remember watching our last match against Germany with my father, who also lives in London," she said. "It was so exciting, and I was the biggest fan in the whole bar. My father kept saying, 'Kinga, calm down, OK'. I just couldn't help it. We lost 2-0 that day, but we play Germany again in our first match in the Euro tournament. I really hope that Poland win."

Fantasy football

Add a bit of spice to the European Championships and pick a fantasy football team - there's more then £25,000 to be won. Register now at www.telegraph.co.uk/fantasyeuro - you can make as many changes as you like until the tournament kicks off on June 7.

1. E Smolarek, Striker Value: £5m
2. A Boruc, Goalkeeper Value: £3m
3. J Bak, Defender Value: £3m
4. M Zewlakov, Defender Value: £3.2m
5. M Jop, Defender Value: £2.6m
6. G Bronowicki, Midfielder Value: £2.9m
7. M Zurawski, Striker Value: £4.8m
8. T Kuszczak, Goalkeeper Value: £2.5m
9. P Golanski, Defender Value: £2.8m
10. M Wasilewski, Defender Value: £2.9m


Re: England football supporters urged to support Poland!!

Oh, sure, give the Telegraph’s reasons for support. I am waiting for the Sun to list their reasons to cheer Poland.

Re: England football supporters urged to support Poland!!

limited schlimited

What about Dudek? He may be playing for real now, but he made a big contribution to Liverpool when he played for them.

I keep coming across Polish names whenever I watch premier league footie (not often).