The national coach's official journeys abroad speak volumes about the dismal state of Polish soccer. In April, for instance, Smuda took a short trip to Germany. His first visit was to a police station in which Slawomir Peszko, a midfielder with FC Cologne being considered for the national team, had to spend the night after going on a bender. Then he had to deal with the problems of potential national players Sebastian Boenisch (Werder Bremen, red card) and Adam Matuszczyk (Fortuna Düsseldorf, transfer for disciplinary reasons). Finally, he joined 80,719 other fans in the stands to watch the match between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
What Smuda saw there made up for many disappointments: how Piszczek and Kuba worked the right side of the pitch; how Lewandowski reacted stoically when one of his shots hit the woodwork whereas Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez was pulling his hair out in frustration; and how Lewandowski ultimately used his left foot to find the net for the decisive 1:0 goal.
Lewandowski has become "even stronger physically" in Germany, Smuda says with pride, adding that Kuba and Piszczek have also improved. Anyone who saw how the three Poles left the team hotel only a few hours before the big match against Bayern Munich and strolled unmolested behind coach Klopp through the working-class neighborhood of Dortmund-Barop would guess that their extraordinary performances could have something to do with the extraordinary degree of calmness and composure within the BVB club.
A Dream Team in Danger of Dissolving
Like Lewandowski, Kuba lives in Lünen, and Piszczek lived there until recently. A Polish priest lives in the town. A former foreman from the "Minister Achenbach" coal mine heads the local chapter of the BVB fan club. And the granny from next door has been known to ask Kuba "Are you planning on robbing the deli counter?" when he dashes into the local supermarket wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap.
Dortmund and the surrounding area have been a Polish stomping ground since the days of the German Kaiser. They immigrated here to work in the coal mines and steel mills, and the names of their descendents, such as Tilkowski and Kwiatkowski, now adorn the Borussia hall of fame. The priest of the Polish Catholic mission in Dortmund has 32 Lewandowskis in his registry. They now often see their namesake, the Borussia striker, attending Mass in St. Anna's Church.
All that's missing now is a Polish flag flying over the BVB training facility. To the great amusement of many, Klopp has recently taken to yelling "Rusz dupe!" ("Move your ass!") as an occasional demonstration of his proficiency in Polish. Even the groundskeeper is from Poland and known for circulating jokes about his own countrymen. ("What do you call a Pole with no arms? Someone you can trust.")
Money and Love
On the other hand, it's only been six months since the last Kuba crisis, when he wanted to leave the club because he was being outshined by the young Mario Götze. A flurry of reports concerning advances by Real Madrid have recently leaked from people around Piszczek. And a Lewandowski agent in Warsaw recently cranked up the rumor mill concerning his client.
For the time being, though, they're still posing for group photos as the dynamic trio -- together with older fans from the home country or alongside a battalion of U-11 players from Krakow with their dolled-up soccer moms, who lay siege to the training ground and ask for souvenir pictures. On such occasions, Kuba usually stands in the foreground and Lewandowski on the outside.
Although the youngest, Lewandowski is the most popular of the three back home. He is a scorer with a strong personality, and he makes a dashing couple with Anna, his fetching fiancée, who took bronze in the 2009 Traditional Karate World Cup. They don't want to be peddled as "Poland's Beckhams," as they both say in the garden of their brick house in Lünen. But they have an eye on their market and advertising value.
Lewandowski says he would never consider accepting a deal such as the reported 24 million, four-year contract signed by his fellow Dortmund striker Lucas Barrios, who transferred to the backwater Chinese Super League. He's careful to point out, though, that this has nothing to do with soccer romanticism: "Declarations of love to a specific team are ridiculous," he says, "because a day could just as easily arrive when the club suddenly no longer wants the player."
What is for certain, though, is that the three Dortmund Poles will be playing out of more than just a sense of patriotism when the 2012 European Football Championship kicks off on June 8. They'll also be showcasing their abilities to the world of soccer. "Each of us is, of course, also playing for his market value," Lewandowski says.
Translated from the German by Paul Cohen
Do in Rome as the Romans do. Trio was doing as Germans demanded. In Poland has to do what Polsih do. 11 members team should not expecte miracle with three super stars. its a team work and while seeing over all performance of [...] more...
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