What to do now? That is the question the citizens of Warsaw are asking themselves. For the last three weeks gripes such as school exams, noisy neighbours and fuel prices have become completely irrelevant. Everyone felt something important was happening and they wanted to be a part of it. The National Stadium Warsaw may have only held its last game on Thursday, but people are already missing the tournament atmosphere in Poland's capital.
Nevertheless, there is a great deal of pride in how the city contributed to UEFA EURO 2012, as Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz outlined. "We have succeeded on a global scale," she said. "Warsaw, and Poland, has never been so prominent in the international media and the consciousness of people worldwide. We will measure the value of the championship by the tourists who visited Warsaw and will be willing to come back here again. I also hope that we will profit from the organisation of the tournament in the years to come."
A classic semi-final between Germany and Italy was a fitting finale according to deputy mayor Jacek Wojciechowicz. "The last game in Warsaw was a beautiful embodiment of this tournament," he said. "We could feel the atmosphere of football celebrations in the streets. I was in the Old Town and Nowy Świat street, and I saw how people celebrated together. Not only Germans and Italians, but also Poles."
UEFA EURO 2012 does not just leave Warsaw with great memories, though. Apart from the wonderful stadium, new train lines and roads have helped accelerate the modernisation of the city. Former Denmark goalkeeper and EURO winner Peter Schmeichel, whose father is Polish, said: "This tournament has changed the image of Poland. It is now considered to be open to other people and open to new challenges. It showed Poland to be an interesting place and I'm convinced the EURO has also changed the mentality of Polish people."
There is a feeling that, thanks to UEFA EURO 2012, Warsaw has been promoted into the premier league of European cities – rubbing shoulders with the likes of London, Paris and Rome. According to the initial analysis, almost 200,000 foreign fans have visited Poland's capital in the last month. The dust has barely settled, but Warsaw's inhabitants already appreciate it was worth all the effort, because the city will never be the same again. It will be more modern, more colourful and more confident.
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