Walukiewicz: Poland are out to lift the U-20 World Cup
Sebastian Walukiewicz is earmarked as a potential future star for Poland
Defender has ambitions of glory for the hosts at the U-20 World Cup
He recently sealed a move to Cagliari, who he will join at the end of the season
One of Poland's standout young talents,Sebastian Walukiewicz is in line to be one of the hosts' key players during the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup. The central defender, who has dreams of emulating 2007 tournament graduate Gerard Pique, opened up to FIFA.com about his ambitions with Poland, why he has opted for Italy's Serie A and gave his recommendations for those headed to Poland 2019.
FIFA.com: What would it mean for you to take part in the U-20 World Cup? Sebastian Walukiewicz: It will be like fulfilling a dream. I love playing football, it is a real pleasure, and certainly not what I'd call work. Everybody dreams about playing in World Cup, no matter whether it is youth or senior. A World Cup is a World Cup. If I take part, it will be very exciting, especially considering the fact that we will play at home.
What will be Poland's aim at the tournament? Qualifying from the group? As a first step yes, but one should aim high and be ambitious. For me, but I am sure that it's the same for the other players and coach, the final goal will be to win the title! We're playing at home, we are going to prepare hard and we're understanding each other better and better. I believe we'll be ready and will go far in the tournament. We have a good team and experienced coach; Jacek Magiera has seen a lot both as player and coach, as he was Legia Warszawa boss and also coached in the Champions League. He can teach us a lot and I hope we will use it during the tournament.
There will be lot of visitors during the tournament, not just players but officials and fans too, from all around the world. What as a Pole would you advise them to visit? I spent four years in the Legia Warszawa academy, so had enough time to get to know the city. I strongly recommend visiting Warsaw. It is nice mixture of modernity and history, definitely worth exploring. And of course the Polish seaside, especially the city of Gdańsk.
And what about Polish cuisine? What one dish would you recommend? I would go for pierogi (dumplings). I think every foreigner should try it.
Players can often shine at the U-20 World Cup and go on to play for bigger clubs. But you've already made this step, of course. That is true. I've signed a contract with Cagliari, but I will stay at Pogoń Szczecin till the end of the season and then move to Italy. I am glad this decision has already been made as many people were asking about my future. It was a bit tiring, so I am glad everything is clear. Now and it means I only have to focus on football during the World Cup, which is a scenario that works for me.
And why did you choose Cagliari? Was it very important for you that, outside of the Polish leagues, Serie A has the biggest number of Polish players? No, it was not the most important thing. I wanted to go to Italy as I know it is good and challenging league for defenders and I would like to learn as much as possible. Clubs from England and Germany were interested in me, but I was always focused on Italy.
Before you signed for Cagliari, you checked over the club and city in a detailed fashion… Very true. I analysed it a lot, inspecting how central defenders performed at the club. I noticed that even though Cagliari have five central defenders, all of them had the chance to play and gain minutes, which sounds promising. I also used Google Maps to take a virtual walk around the city! Then, in December, I went there to speak about my future and had a chance for a proper walk [laughs]. So far all has gone to plan. I wanted to leave Legia for Pogoń so I could play senior football as soon as possible - a goal I managed to achieve. Then, I planned to stay in Pogoń for two years before making next step and I've done it. Now, I'm moving to Italy in a few months.
So, how's your Italian? I'm learning at the moment. I took some dictionaries to Turkey, where we were for our training camp with Pogoń, and now I'm starting to have regular classes. I know it's important and I don't want to neglect it.