Poles who get reflected glory from seeing Germany's Polish-born
Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski in action overcame the gloom of
their idols' Euro 2012 exit, saying Italy deserved their gutsy
2-1 semi-final win.
With co-hosts Poland having failed to advance from the group
stage at the European championship, some fans transferred their
loyalty to the next best thing to a home team.
Klose and Podolski shirts sported by Polish fans were much in
evidence at the 50,000-strong fanzone crowd in the capital
Warsaw, where Germany fell to Italy in the National Stadium
across the River Vistula.
"Klose's my favorite player, because he scores loads of goals.
That's why I'm supporting Germany," nine-year-old Kuba Ramotowski
told AFP, even though the Lazio striker failed to shine against
"And he's Polish, of course," added his father Marcin, 36, with a
Klose and Podolski were both born in the southern Polish region
of Silesia and emigrated to neighbouring Germany as youngsters.
Podolski turned 27 on June 4, the day Germany arrived at their
Euro 2012 base in the northern Polish city of Gdansk, and at
their first training session around 8,000 fans turned out to sing
"Happy Birthday" to him in Polish.
Klose, now 34, made his debut with Die Mannschaft in 2001, while
Podolski earned his first cap in 2004.
In past matches Polish viewers have enjoyed spotting Klose
mouthing Polish expletives after missed shots.
Adding an extra edge is the fact that Podolski is the Poland
At 18 he contacted the Polish football association, the PZPN, to
enquire about donning the Poland shirt but got the brush-off.
Klose was never tempted by Poland, but to avoid losing
foreign-based talent in the future, the PZPN set up a unit to
scout the world's huge Polish diaspora, which recruited
German-raised Sebastian Boenisch and Eugen Polanski for the
Poland squad ahead of Euro 2012.
The relationship is a love-hate one, however, and not just
because of the historical antipathy between Poland and Germany.
Klose and Podolski turned Polish fans into nervous wrecks during
the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008, when twists of fate drew
Germany and Poland together.
But at the 2010 World Cup, for which Poland failed to qualify,
Poles shared a slice of the pride when Germany came third.
Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, whom Podolski is poised to
join at English side Arsenal from Germany's Cologne, rates him
"He's got a fantastic left foot and I hope he's going to score a
lot of goals for us. He's a physical player, he's not one of
those German players whose game is based only on technique,"
Szczesny said earlier in Euro 2012.
"And he's Polish. He's been texting me in Polish," he added.
For some Poles, however, supporting Germany is not about the duo.
"It's simply a matter of liking good football," said
thirtysomething Michal Saknowski, who said he would be backing
Italy against Spain in Sunday's final.
Michal Dadela, 20, said he'd been rooting for Italy against
Germany and had been blown away by the brace of goals from Mario
"They were really great. And Balotelli, well, he was just
amazing. Mind you, I'll be supporting Spain in the final," he