Recalled by Poland after more than a year out of the squad, Ireneusz Jeleń has a dream: to score their first goal at the new National Stadium Warsaw.
The LOSC Lille Métropole winger last played for the UEFA EURO 2012 co-hosts on 9 February 2011 in a 1-0 win against Norway, an absence that should end with Wednesday's visit of Portugal, 100 days before the Polish capital stages the opening finals fixture against Greece. "
I am delighted to be back in the national team after a one-year break and I am dreaming about marking my comeback with a goal," Jeleń told UEFA.com. "Especially if it is our first goal at the new National Stadium. It would be great to enter the Polish history books by doing that."
Having been to the 2006 FIFA World Cup but missed out on UEFA EURO 2008, the 30-year-old is keen to seize his opportunity this time. "Our team is like a train which is going directly to the EURO finals," he said. "I was not on it for a long time but now I am standing at the platform and want to jump on. The Portugal match is one of the last stops before the final station – EURO. If I play well on Wednesday, maybe I will get the ticket."
However, the former Wisła Plock attacker is currently on the fringes of the Lille side, having made just three Ligue 1 starts for the French title holders since his summer move from AJ Auxerre. "I wish I played more but I am still working hard, also because I have the EURO in my thoughts and I don't want to neglect anything which could take it away from me," Jeleń said. "Even over Christmas, when people in Poland generally enjoy a big variety of meals, I stayed far from the table. Like every footballer, I am on a kind of diet, but in recent months I have been even stricter with myself."
Jeleń, who has scored five goals in 28 internationals, is also taking heart from midfielder Jakub Błaszczykowski's improved fortunes at Borussia Dortmund. "Kuba, our captain, was in a similar situation at Dortmund," he said. "There was a time when he was only a substitute, but for the national team he always performed very well. I want to do the same. Even if I am lacking minutes, I still train with top players every day and that gives me a lot. This is what I want to show our coach Franciszek Smuda. I spoke to him on the phone twice recently so I know he is still counting on me, but I know I must prove it on the pitch."
Although Poland face "one of the best teams in the world with an absolute genius, Cristiano Ronaldo, in their ranks", Jeleń is relishing the midweek challenge. "I hope I will be given a chance to play and show my ability, especially because this is such a special game at such a unique place," he said. "I have played in many great stadiums, but I think this one in Warsaw could be the most beautiful. People say it is absolutely fantastic and I can't wait to experience it."
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