I have been in Poland for almost a week now and, while it is nice seeing the stadiums being prepared for UEFA EURO 2012, something has been lacking for me; the sense of anticipation had not gripped me. But on Monday it all changed: the Nationalmannschaft are here.
Now we can really get started. I had resented being forced to swap summery Frankfurt for cold, wet Gdansk, but believe it or not, the moment I set eyes on the Germany team bus, the sun broke through the clouds for the first time since I landed here in Poland.
I am sure the players are getting just as geed up. Pre-tournament camps in Italy and France are all very well, but this is what counts. The sight of 11,000 predominantly Polish fans flocking to KS Lechia Gdańsk's old stadium (now a training ground following the opening of the beautiful Arena Gdansk) to see Germany train only hours after their arrival was testament to that.
Indeed, everyone gets the sense that the tournament is drawing ever closer. Everywhere there were happy, excited faces, especially the youngsters. As a nice gesture, the German players wore shirts with a Polish flag on them and a thumbs-up button, with the slogans 'Like' and 'Thank you Poland' written on them.
The crowd returned these sentiments, reserving special applause for star man Mesut Özil and two players with strong Polish roots, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski. For Podolski it was a double celebration as it was also his 27th birthday. The well-informed fans duly serenaded him but it is incredible to think he is so young – he could reach his 100th cap at UEFA EURO 2012.
He is on 97 now and even if he misses a group game I reckon he will bring up his century here. Indeed, there is another thing that unites me with the players: we are all hoping to stay here until the final in Kyiv on 1 July. Let the games begin!
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