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The Euro Cup 2008 frenzy has started. TV programming has been rearranged, matches are replayed at nauseam by every news outlet imaginable, newspaper sports pages have swollen to twice their normal size and people on the streets proudly strut in their national colors. Yep. It’s all soccer. All the time.
Soccer, or football, as we call it over here, is definitely the most popular sport in Poland. Polish fans are famous for their enthusiasm and support. But yesterday’s match tested even the most ardent football enthusiasts. Poland played with Germany during the Euro Cup 2008. And lost. 2 to zip.
No big deal, you may say. Happens all the time. Nah, it doesn’t! You see, both goals were scored by a native Pole, who now plays for the German national team. Lukas (“Łukasz” in Polish) Podolski. He was born in Poland and holds dual nationality. And get this, both times the ball was passed to him by another Pole, who now also plays for the German national team – Miroslav (“Mirosław” in Polish) Klose.
Both guys moved from Poland to Germany when they were kids. Back in those days Poland was still under the communist regime. Both sets of parents were athletes and wanted a better future for their children. Germany, being right next door, seemed like a logical place to settle. In Klose’s situation, the issue was not all that complicated – his father was a Polish-German himself. But as he said in interviews, even now he still speaks Polish at home.
Such emigration was a common occurrence. Germany, the US, Canada, and many other countries benefited from the many talented people, who were leaving Poland in droves during those days. Their kids are now musicians, actors, scientists, writers.
Fast forward to a few years later. Poland is now a member of the European Union. The kids who left the country with their parents are now strapping young men. They also happen to play excellent soccer. German soccer. Sometimes against Poland.
Soccer/football = piłka nożna
Soccer fans = kibice