Tuesday 09 October 2018, 07:20

Prolific Piatek the Polish goal hope

  • Piatek has torpedoed landmarks set by Ronaldo and Shevchenko

  • A Lewandowski-Piatek partnership has Poles salivating

  • "Hunger, cool head and effectiveness" praised

Poland trekked to Russia 2018 with more hope than they’d had since the halcyon days of Messrs Tomaszewski, Deyna, Lato and Boniek. They returned home desolate.

Suddenly, however, the blues have turned to buzz for the 1974 and 1982 FIFA World Cup™ bronze medallists. One man is responsible.

As Cristiano Ronaldo swept into north-west Italy amid hullabaloo in the summer, Krzysztof Piatek sneaked into the region unnoticed. The Pole was uncapped. He cost Genoa just €4 million – 1/25th of what Juventus paid Real Madrid for the 33-year-old Portuguese – from Cracovia, the club supported by a once-aspiring goalkeeper who became Pope John Paul II.

“Nobody was at the airport to greet me,” Piatek said, chuckling. “Now I can’t go anywhere without being mobbed.”

The reason, remarkably, is 13 goals in eight appearances. Piatek has ripped up records set by the original Ronaldo and Andriy Shevchenko. He’s seemingly the subject of more Christmas letters to Santa Claus than Fingerlings Hugs, PAW Patrol playsets and the EA Sports’ FIFA 19 video game. The senders include VIP suitors Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid.

Piatek achievements

  • First player since Andriy Shevchenko in 1999 to score in his first five Serie A appearances.

  • First player to score eight goals in his first six Serie A games since Karl Aage Hansen almost 70 years ago.

  • First player since Christian Vieri in 2002 to score in each of the first seven rounds of a Serie A season. Gabriel Batistuta holds the record having netted in the first 11 in 1994.

  • Nine goals in Serie A this term – more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues. Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Christian Stuani have eight apiece.

“He’s done incredible work for himself and for other Polish players,” said Polish Football Association president Zibi Boniek. “He’s set the bar very high. Now we want to see him do it for the national team.”

Piatek, who was afforded an hour on his international debut in a friendly with Republic of Ireland last month, is expected to get that chance when Poland host Portugal and Italy in the UEFA Nations League.

“Krzysztof is in excellent form,” said Poland coach Jerzy Brzeczek. “What’s noticeable in his eyes is his hunger, cool head and effectiveness. We hope he can carry his form into the national team matches. There is certainly an option to play him alongside Lewandowski.”

That option would seemingly elate the whole of Poland. “I’ve been watching Robert since I was a youth player,” Piatek told SportoweFakty. “I tried to imitate him. He always impressed me with his back to goal.

“He came to talk to me during the last camp. I've been experimenting with various things [he told me]. Robert has a completely different way of seeing the game than many people in our country. He talked a lot about Guardiola, how much attention he paid to details, how he could find a solution to any situation. Guardiola always had new ideas. Robert helped me a lot.”

Piatek, too, has helped himself. “I was a bum at school," he admitted. "I never liked learning and stupid ideas used to come to mind. Many people from where I grew up have been lost. They got into drugs. I managed to escape. Football helped me. I was in love with this sport.

“I will never get carried away. I have achieved nothing yet. My family and my girlfriend keep my feet on the ground. I don’t sit for six hours a day in front of a computer or console like I used to. I like to work hard, to get tired. I pay attention to diet and training. A few years ago my girlfriend persuaded me to learn English, saying it would help my career. Now it is very useful.”

That girlfriend, Paulina, has been with Piatek to the Arabian Peninsula – they love holidaying in Dubai. Will he return there in 2022 as part of another awesome double act?