I just can’t stop talking about football. Are you ready for some more stories from world’s greatest stadiums? Let’s get back to 1982…
After a goalless draw with Italy and Cameroon, the Polish national team was in last place in the group and only a victory over Peru could save us. We came onto the field and within 21 minutes we scored five goals. Estadio Riazor in La Coruni and the Spanish sun proved to be very lucky for us that day, and after a very unfortunate start, we managed to get out of the group.
After we got out of the group we landed in the next group, which was how the system worked then. In the first match Boniek scored 3 goals against Belgium, the second game we played against the USSR. There was a political dimension here, of course, because we know how the situation looked. It was hard, martial law, Poles held under the boots of the army, gray and without hope. All the matches in this group were played at the world’s most famous stadium, Camp Nou. And this stadium proved to be lucky for us, the Poles after a heroic battle, with an unforgettable dance of Włodzimierz Smolarek in the corner of the field, fought for a goalless draw. The elimination of the USSR was a symbolic victory, which gave us a truly real advancement to the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Boniek, who was supposed to help us whip the Italians, could not play in the semi-finals because he reached the limit of yellow cards and could only watch the 0-2 loss from the bench. We were left with the match for third place against France, who were demolished in the second semi-final by the Germans, who fought the French into the ground. It was a very brutal match, the French player Battiston was taken to the hospital after a foul.
We started badly, but once again the Spanish sun was kind to us and after scoring 3 goals in 6 minutes, we could enjoy third place in the World Cup. The witness of this feat was the audience gathered at Estadio José Rico Pérez in Alicante. In my opinion, the luckiest stadium for the Polish National Team.
Curse of Piechniczek
We said goodbye to the Mexican World Cup in 1986 when we left the group (the only goal scored by us in this championship was enough) and we came upon Brazil. We lost 0:4 but the match could have been different if Tarasiewicz had not hit the post and Karaś had not hit the crossbar. Then the referee dictated a penalty kick and it was over for us. We were left with hunger for more and the famous curse of Piechniczek, who wished his successors at least such a result. And in fact, we played the next match at this level in 2002 at the World Cup in Japan and Korea. E
very football fan in Poland wants to forget about this championship as soon as possible. But in all this misery we cannot forget about the match that allowed us to advance to this championship. We fought against Norway at home, won 3-0, and won advancement to the finals as the first European team. We played this match in the stadium which saw the most in its history – in Chorzów. The advancement to the World Cup after 15 years (we played the match on September 1, 2001) pleased everyone. Our team’s attitude at the championships, not so much.
In 2006, Leo Beenhakker took the post of team manager. The main goal – the first advancement to the European Championship. And again, the Stadium in Chorzów favored us. First we won there with the group favorite, Portugal, then the victorious match with Belgium gave us the historic advancement. It was the most beautiful day in the lives of many fans.
The beautiful stadium in Klagenfurt, 4 km from the lake of Worthersee, was to be the arena of the Polish national team’s first match of the European Championship. Luckily, I had the opportunity to work at this championship as a volunteer. We came face to face with Germany, after two goals from Podolski, we descended from the field beaten, but not defeated. An unlucky draw with Austria after a problematic penalty, which everyone who saw it still remembers, and the mathematical last chance match with Croatia, again in Klagenfurt. And again this arena turned out to be not too lucky for us, the Croats won 1-0, and we finished our first performance at this event in last place of the group.
European Championship 2016
Exiting the group was the minimum. Second place in the group, behind Germany, gave us advancement. With Switzerland we played a match which sent many fans of the Polish National Team to the intensive care unity or out for a large vodka. I also had the opportunity to work at these Championships, and this match was the most exciting I have ever seen. We won in penalty kicks and suddenly something unexpected happened. We were in the quarterfinals. We played the match against Portugal match at the venue that was hosting its fourth major football event (Euro three times and World Cup once) – Stade Velodrome in Marseille. We had a fantastic fight before the sixty-seven thousand person audience. The match electrified not only football fans. On June 30, 2016 almost 16 million Poles sat down in front of their TVs. It was the sporting event with the highest viewership in the history of Polish telemetry research.
Everyone remembers this match, a 1:1 draw by the end of regulation time, overtime and penalties, which Kuba Błaszczykowski will probably not forget for the rest of his life. Portugal became the European Champion, so we fell to not just anyone. But all of us are probably wondering what would happen if Kuba’s shot went to the other corner … Anyway, next year will be the World Cup in Russia, which – after the last win against Montenegro – will surely include us.