Being mentioned in the same breath as Wayne Rooney can be a double-edged sword for a young player. The comparison is undoubtedly a compliment, but also serves to ratchet up the pressure on an up-and-coming talent. Nevertheless, prodigy Dawid Janczyk has long come to terms with his billing as "the Polish Rooney."
Perhaps even more appropriately, the youngster has also been hailed as the second coming of legendary striker and FIFA World Cup semi-finalist Zbigniew Boniek, confirming his status as Poland's standard-bearer for the future and nurturing visions of a footballing generation capable of recapturing former glories. For precisely these reasons, the burly hitman rates as a potential shooting star of the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 which runs from 30 June to 22 July.
The talented youth appears to have everything required of a striker at the highest level nowadays. The comparison with Manchester United's Rooney stems from Janczyk's extremely robust physique, while his exceptional pace and technique harken back to the attributes possessed by Boniek, arguably Poland's greatest all-time player. "I've been following his progress with huge enthusiasm," the iconic figure himself has declared. Janczyk can hardly hope for a more illustrious endorsement than that.
The 19-year-old shot to international recognition at the U-19 European Championship on home soil last year. He struck a hat-trick in Poland's second group match, a 4-1 victory over Belgium, and despite the fact coach Michal Globisz' lads lost their two remaining group fixtures, Janczyk earned plaudits for performances bristling with menace in front of goal in a 1-0 opening defeat to Austria and a 2-0 reverse against the Czech Republic.
"Janczyk made the difference. He has excellent ability, and even though we knew all about him in advance, our defenders couldn't stop him. If he can keep it up, he'll have a great career," Belgian coach Marc van Geersom commented admiringly.
Before treading the European stage with the U-19s, Janczyk was a hidden gem known only to a small circle of Polish insiders. That soon changed after he ran up five goals in 18 matches in his first season with Legia Warsaw, collecting championship honours with the capital city giants at the first time of asking, the kind of pedigree often associated with a star of the future.
Europe's big names alerted
Inevitably enough, a clutch of Europe's top clubs are reported to be circling the young marksman, and it is surely only a matter of time before Janczyk parades his talents on the elite continental stage. He would have made his senior international debut for Poland back in March 2006 after then coach Pavel Janas named him in the squad for a friendly against Saudi Arabia, but the striker was forced to pull out with injury.
That means Canada finally provides the international setting for Janczyk to make his mark and lead his team to a better outcome than at the U-19 European Championships, where the host nation squeezed into the finals after finishing third in Group A. Once in Canada, Poland contest Group D against Brazil, Korea Republic and the US.
US coach Thomas Rongen already rates as an admirer of the Central European goal-getter, recognising that the Poles could end up as the surprise package of the tournament if Janczyk plays to his full potential. That would open the door for the youngster to fulfil his publicly stated dream: "I'd love to have a career like the great Boniek."