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Brazil's Roger Guerreiro is Poland's new hope
He was born in Sao Paulo, and has played for Sao Caetano, Corinthians and Flamengo. He'd never set foot in eastern Europe until he joined Legia Warsaw on loan in December 2005 and yet the chances are that today Roger Guerreiro will trot out in Klagenfurt wearing a red shirt of Poland to face Germany in their opening game of Euro 2008
"If he feels Polish, if his heart beats harder when he listens to our national anthem, if he gives his all on the pitch, it could work," said the veteran centre-back Jacek Bak. "If not, there will be a problem."
In truth, there are problems already. Poland have been through this before, when their then-coach Jerzy Engel speeded through the naturalisation of the Nigerian Emmanuel Olisadebe after he had completed just three years of the usual five-year residency requirement. But he, at least, had a Polish wife; Roger has no link to Poland at all.
Olisadebe's goals fired Poland to qualification for the World Cup in 2002, but his career was checked by a series of knee injuries and he scored only twice more for his adopted country after the finals in South Korea.
The Olisadebe case enraged the right-wing lobby, which rather muted criticism from those who had no desire to align themselves with what were often overtly racist attacks.
Roger's speedy naturalisation, though, has been widely condemned, particularly as it has emerged that he is weighing up offers from clubs in Israel and Russia and could leave Poland after the tournament.
"Maybe soon we'll need the six-plus-five rule in international football," joked the TV commentator Maciej Iwanski last week.
Leo Beenhakker, Poland's Dutch coach, is scathing of his critics, accusing them of failing to live in the modern world. "He has his dream, and we share it with him," he said. "It's 2008. It's time to know the world has changed. I have deep faith in Roger."
He has not said it, but it has not gone unnoticed that Germany have included in their squad three players – Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Piotr Trochowski – who were born in Poland.
All, it should be said, left for Germany at an early age, but it is to try to combat such defections that Engel, now the vice-president of the Polish football federation, has instituted a programme to try to persuade players of Polish origin living in Germany to commit to Poland.
The real problem in the Roger case though is that there is a sense of betrayal. All through qualifying, Beenhakker told Polish football to cast off its habitual pessimism and "look on the bright side of the moon", insisting that they had players of sufficient talent to be successful.
He promoted a number of previously unheralded players from the Polish league – most notably Wisla Krakow's Dariusz Dudka, whom he converted from ordinary centre-back into highly effective holding midfielder – and as they qualified above Portugal, Serbia, Finland and Belgium, his methods seemed justified.
"It's seem strange," said Jan Tomaszewski, Poland's former goalkeeper and now a television pundit, "that he should say all this then go chasing for players from anywhere now we have qualified."
Roger's ability is not in question. His pace and intelligence darting in from the left inspired Legia Warsaw to the title in his first season, and although he was less effective after moving into a more central role last season, he was still man-of-the-match as Legia won the Polish Cup final.
He made his international debut against Albania last week, setting up Maciej Zurawski for the only goal and, probably more importantly, looks at ease within the squad.
Only the Grauniad could write something as sophomoric as “The German-Polish football rivalry stems from the two nations' troubled history, namely Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland, which sparked the second world war.”
Yes, as we all know the previous millennium was without incident.
A large number of Poles have put Polish flags on their cars in the last few days. In my view they are in for a big disappointment despite the addition of non-Polish players in their national team.
Hmmm well a Pole scored the two winning goals...unfortunately he was not on the Polish team!
No, he's German. He was a baby when he and his family left Poland. He and his parents chose and choose to be German, not Polish.
This does not sound like someone who feels German talking :
Extract from above link :
KLAGENFURT, Austria (AFP) - Polish-born forward Lukas Podolski admitted he was suffering from divided loyalties after his goals sealed a 2-0 win which sank Poland and launched the German's Euro 2008 campaign.
Having turned 23 last Wednesday, Podolski combined with Germany's other Polish-born forward Miroslav Klose for his first goal on 20 minutes and followed up with an unstoppable volley on 72 minutes.
"We did the essential in winning our opener, but this victory does not over enthuse me as I am originally from Poland. All my family is over there," he said.
"I have two hearts - a German one and a Polish one!"
"I had some family in the stands and they were driving back home after the game, so I ran to them at the end of the game.
"I didn't really celebrate after the first goal as a mark of respect, I have a big family in Poland and was born there, I wanted to show some respect."
Media speak. He wore football boots with a special German flag on. Something no-one else did on the german side
I don't see how he can be seen as Polish
Podolski lived in Poland for all of 2 years as a baby. The rest of his life (i.e. the other 21 years), including his school and training years, he has spent in Germany. He's much more German than he ever was Polish. It would be strange if he didn't play for Germany.
He looks Polish
"The rest of his life (i.e. the other 21 years), including his school and training years, he has spent in Germany. He's much more German than he ever was Polish"
If you are bought up with a different culture because of your parents then you are never going to be 100% of the culture where you are born. I spent many years as a child very confused and bewildered by being in a country with one culture and having a different culture and language at home.
You don't need newspaper quotes to see he was clearly completely torn up when he scored the first goal. If I remember correctly he held his head in his hands and did not smile...
At least he is doing a good job for Polish/German relations. (maybe not on this board, but generally...).
"At least he is doing a good job for Polish/German relation."
Why do you think this?
"Given historically recent Nazi crimes against ethnic Poles, and his decision to play for Germany as a Polish Citizen, he is viewed as a traitor in Poland."
"Why do you think this?"
I meant in Germany. Seeing as they have such negative Polish stereotypes, wins from Podolski and Kubica (recent Polish winner of Canadian Grand Prix on BMW Sauber team which has three German team mates among others) are bound to reinforce a more positive Polish stereotype.
"Media speak. He wore football boots with a special German flag on. Something no-one else did on the german side"
What's a special German flag?