Polish international goalkeeper Grzegorz Sandomierski left his homeland and Jagiellonia Białystok this week to sign a five-year deal with Belgian titleholders KRC Genk.
The 21-year-old, named by UEFA.com as one of ten players who could potentially shine at UEFA EURO 2012, is hoping to play at the highest level of the European game both for his country and his new employers, who play Maccabi Haifa FC in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off tie on Wednesday. "The priority is to qualify for the group stage," he said. "This is the most prestigious club competition in the world."
UEFA.com: On Thursday, after Poland's friendly with Georgia, you went to Belgium. The negotiations were very quick ...
Sandomierski: Yes, on Friday morning I underwent a medical. The result was very good, which was really important to me. In the evening my agent and I met with the club and I signed a five-year contract. We made a deal quickly and I'm very satisfied.
UEFA.com: What convinced you to join Genk?
Sandomierski: Genk have a chance of qualifying for the Champions League but unfortunately I cannot play in the play-offs. I really hope to if we go through.
Genk are really strong team, with a great training centre, beautiful stadium and the city lives and breathes football. It's not a big city and I am sure I will be comfortable here.
UEFA.com: Last season Genk won the championship ahead of a famous club like RSC Anderlecht. Expectations must now be very high.
Sandomierski: The priority is to qualify for the Champions League group stage. This is the most prestigious club competition in the world. This would be the chance for many players to showcase themselves in Europe. It's great promotion for them.
UEFA.com: With Genk having sold Thibaut Courtois to Chelsea FC you have a real chance of being the first-choice goalkeeper.
Sandomierski: You don't get anything for free. I am new player and I need to prove my quality. Now I have one week until the next league game [against Cercle Brugge KSV]. We'll see if this is enough to convince the staff. I came here to play. Obviously I have competition but all I want is to play, and to play the best I can.
UEFA.com: A lot of people have said it is not a good idea for you to go abroad given your age – 21 – and that there is less than a year to go until Poland co-hosts UEFA EURO 2012.
Sandomierski: That's true but I believe I've made the correct decision. Here I've got the opportunity to gain not only domestic experience but to also play in UEFA competition. This can be only good for me.
UEFA.com: What are your expectations for the 2011/12 season?
Sandomierski: First of all I want to play and to prove that Genk were right to sign me. I want to play at the top level.
UEFA.com: Will playing for Genk help you to become No1 for Poland in time for UEFA EURO 2012?
Sandomierski: A lot depends on how the team performs against Maccabi Haifa. I really hope we qualify for the group stage. Playing in the UEFA Champions League might convince Franciszek Smuda to trust me more, but the most important thing is to play regularly. This gives a lot of confidence to a goalkeeper. The transfer itself doesn't bring me closer to Poland's starting XI. You have to fight for everything and I will be fighting till the very end.
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