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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lukas Podolski: The German Pole

Germany v Poland - Group B Euro 2008
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Lukas Podolski of Germany scored a brace today in their win over Poland. He has a very impressive strike rate when playing for Germany. He averages a goal every other game (28 goals in 48 international appearances).

But today was no ordinary game for Podolski. He featured in an attacking left midfield role, which is different than his usual striker position. And for the second time in a major competition, he had to face the team of his country of birth: Poland. He, along with Bayern Munich teammate, Miroslav Klose, are naturalized German citizens who were born in Poland. Often, they communicate with each other in their mother tongue. One of their other teammates, Kevin Kuranyi, was born in Brazil and also spent part of his youth in Panama. Germany is reflective of the global influence at the national team level. In the old days, you played for the country of your birth. Well, most of the time.

As the famous Azzurri coach, Mister Vittorio Pozzo, once said when criticized for playing "oriundi" (naturalized Italians from South America):
"If they can die for Italy, they can play for Italy."
Today, Herr Podalski opened his account with an impressive display. The performance by the rest of his side no doubt was reassuring for Herr Joachim Loew, the German coach.

Today, guess who assisted Podolski on both goals?

Miroslav Klose.

Podolski refused to celebrate either in a genuine act of humility that perhaps was as equally important as the goals. He had wanted to represent Poland, but they didn't want him.

Poland's loss was Germany's gain.

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