Michał Żewłakow will call time on an illustrious international career when Poland play Greece on Tuesday at the home of Olympiacos FC, the club where he won three Greek Super League titles and two Greek Cups.
The 34-year-old MKE Ankaragücü right-back has amassed 101 caps, representing Poland at the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup finals as well as UEFA EURO 2008. Here the former R. Excelsior Mouscron and RSC Anderlecht defender looks back on his glory days with UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: How did you decide you would play your last game for Poland against Greece?
Michał Żewłakow: It was my idea. When I heard Poland would play a friendly against Greece in Piraeus, which is a very special place to me, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to play my farewell match for my country there. If it is possible for a player to fall in love with a club, then my club is definitely Olympiacos. I won three Greek titles with them and played in the UEFA Champions League. I spent the best years of my career there and it is a big thing for me to say goodbye to international football at a place I really adore. It will be one of the most special days of my life.
UEFA.com: You will earn your 102nd cap against Greece, but are you not sad that you will not get to play at UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine?
Żewłakow: Playing at the EURO would be amazing, but that is life. I told [Poland coach] Franciszek Smuda that it's better for a young player to start his career at a big tournament than for an old one to finish his career there. I have written my small chapter in Polish football history and that is great. Playing for Poland gave me a lot of positives but now I wonder how much longer I will continue playing. I have lived away from Poland for 13 years and I am tired, maybe not physically, but mentally. The desire to end my career is growing and although I'm not sure exactly when it will happen, it's not far off.
UEFA.com: Who is the most dangerous opponent you have faced in your international career?
Żewłakow: I would pick two players: Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimović. They are amazing players with skills that are out of this world. If these two played together, they would be the most dangerous strike force in the world.
UEFA.com: Which were your most memorable games for Poland?
Żewłakow: My first match, against New Zealand in Thailand, because no one forgets their international debut. Also the game against France [on 23 February 2000], not only because it was played at the Stade de France but because it was the first match for Poland that I played with my younger twin brother, Marcin. The World Cup qualifier against Armenia in March 2001 was also memorable because for the first time Marcin and I scored in the same match for Poland. Qualifying for major tournaments also stands out – we beat Norway 3-0 in Chorzow to qualify for the 2002 World Cup and a 2-0 victory against Belgium at the same stadium guaranteed our place at UEFA EURO 2008.
UEFA.com: Which games would you rather forget?
Żewłakow: In 2009 we played Northern Ireland in Belfast – I scored an own goal and we lost 3-2. But thinking about own goals, I only scored two in my professional career which means I still scored more at the right end.
UEFA.com: Do you have any regrets?
Żewłakow: You can always say you could have done more. Recently, I looked at the list of the players I had played against – including Josep Guardiola, Andoni Zubizarreta, the De Boer brothers, Rooney and Ibrahimović. I was really part of the big football world so it was not a waste of time for me.
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