Eugen Polanski may only have been part of the Poland national team for 18 months, but the Hoffenheim defensive midfielder is already a key component of coach Waldemar Fornalik’s side.
The 26-year-old has cemented his place in the team through a string of impressive displays on the international scene, and is currently fully focused on reaching the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Having failed to make it to South Africa 2010, the Poles are more determined than ever to secure participation at the football world’s showpiece tournament for an eighth time.
“When you think about Brazil and the World Cup, you don’t need any further motivation,” Polanski said in interview with FIFA.com. “I got to experience the atmosphere at EURO 2012. Big tournaments create so much emotion and adrenaline.
"You find strength you never knew you had and I’d like to feel that again at the World Cup in Brazil. It’s an incredible feeling to experience a competition like that first-hand. I don’t want to miss out on that and will be doing everything I can to be part of it.”
The foundations for realising that dream have already been laid after the first three games in qualifying Group H of the European Zone, with Poland currently unbeaten in third place. This self-described “team player” views the draws with leaders Montenegro and at home to second-placed England, 2-2 and 1-1 respectively, as positive indicators for the remaining fixtures.
“I think we’ve started the qualifiers well. We’ve played against the toughest teams in the group in Montenegro and England, and we got a point from each game. Against England we even dropped two points in my opinion,” said Polanski, who represented Germany at youth level before switching allegiances to his country of birth.
Despite participating in his maiden qualifying campaign for a major tournament, the 16-time international is well aware of what to expect from the forthcoming encounters with Ukraine and San Marino.
“I think the game against Ukraine will be evenly balanced,” Polanski said. “We have to win at home in order to keep pace with Montenegro and England, and if we want to go to the World Cup we have to be beating San Marino. But it’ll be a tough match and we can't afford to be arrogant or complacent.”
The defensive specialist believes much of the country’s recent success can be attributed to coach Fornalik, who took over the reins following the disappointing group-stage exit at last summer’s UEFA EURO 2012. Since then, Fornalik has revitalised the side by injecting younger players into the squad.
"Waldemar Fornalik is a coach with a clear philosophy," Polanski said. "He doesn't shy away from giving young players a chance and integrating them into the team. We've taken his ideas on board and are working very hard towards the goals we've set ourselves. The team is starting to bear the coach's stamp and we've still got plenty of room to develop."
Indeed, the atmosphere in the Polish camp is positive, in spite of missing out on the last FIFA World Cup and the premature EURO 2012 elimination on home turf. The national side's most recent outings have not only given supporters reason to reminisce about third-place finishes at the 1974 and 1982 finals, but have also allowed Polanski to dare to dream about reaching Brazil next year.
"Of course qualifying for the World Cup is no foregone conclusion, but when the entire nation is behind you it's worth giving it your all," Polanski concluded. "I'm sure the country will go crazy if we secure our ticket for the World Cup."