Poland's 50 celebrity Friends of UEFA EURO 2012 were invited to gather together in Gdansk on Tuesday for lunch before watching the evening's friendly game against Germany.
"We launched the campaign a year ago before Poland's friendly against Ukraine," said Polish tournament director Adam Olkowicz. "Since then we have chosen 50 popular and well-known people as Friends of EURO. The leading names on the list are the former presidents of Poland, Lech Wałęsa and Aleksander Kwaśniewski. All our friends love football, are passionate about the game and are behind the Polish national team."
Former light heavyweight world champion boxer Dariusz Michalczewski was especially pleased to be attending the event in his home town. "The Poland v Germany is the real starting point in our final EURO preparations," he said. "In 2003, I came back to Poland and Gdansk [after living in Germany] to promote the city and the country on big occasions like this one. As a kid, I wanted to be a footballer. I am proud to be a Friend of EURO together with my childhood idol [former Poland striker] Włodzimierz Lubański."
Lubański turned heads at the open-air bar at the Hotel Gdańsk, with his feats in the Górnik Zabrze side that reached the final of the 1969/70 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup still a big deal in Poland. "You can feel in the air that a big football occasion is coming more and more, especially when you have a big match like Poland v Germany," said the 64-year-old. "As a former footballer, I know it is crucial for the team to play strong opponents. I hope the Polish players in can gain experience and make the right decisions."
In the coming week, the final Polish Friends of EURO will be named, with the roster of 50 chosen from members of the public to be completed after a contest. Poland and Ukraine will both name 100 Friends of EURO each.
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