Five-goal striker Patryk Małecki has helped Wisla Kraków establish a six-point lead over KS Ruch Chorzów at the top of the Polish Ekstraklasa with almost a third of the season gone.
The 21-year-old has been a revelation this term, his exploits placing him at the front of the scorers' list alongside Lech Poznań's Robert Lewandowski. The ever-present Małecki's goals have been key to the champions winning eight of their nine league matches and remaining the division's only unbeaten side.
"I am surprised other teams have dropped so many points but that is not Wisla's problem," Małecki, in his second campaign as a Wisla regular, told uefa.com. "We are in very good shape and hope that continues. Of course, I am also a bit surprised that I am playing so well and scoring so frequently, but I did everything to prepare for the start of the season and these performances are the result."
The home-grown Małecki attributes his rise to Pope John Paul II, whose example has inspired a player who was once easily distracted, to concentrate on his career. "There were times when I was a troublemaker, I thought more about girls, discos and alcohol than football," continued the forward, who recently extended his Wisla contract until June 2014. "But thanks to God, I stopped at the right time and am now more mature. I only think about football. During the holidays, when the rest of the players have days off, I go to the gym or the swimming pool. I am aware of the fact I have talent and it would be a sin to waste it.
"I've read books about John Paul II and 18 months ago I got a tattoo of him on my right forearm – it really helps me be a good man," continued the Polish Under-21 international, whose body art even had the approval of his grandmother, Jolanta. "When grandma saw it, she was happy and relieved, because she knows that young people sometimes get tattoos of the devil or other strange symbols. My grandma is very religious so she was delighted to see the Pope on my arm. She is big football fan too, and watches all the games, especially when I am playing. It gives me a boost because I want her to be proud of me."
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