"The hat-trick against Malta was the first of my career," Poland Under-21 striker Arkadiusz Milik told UEFA.com. "Then I did the same in the next match, which is quite unusual, but very nice for me. I don't know whether I am in the best shape of my life, but I definitely feel very good right now."
If the 19-year-old has disappeared off the radar since Górnik Zabrze received a record €3m fee from Bayer 04 Leverkusen for his services in December 2012, he issued a reminder this week of why he has been compared to Robert Lewandowski and Poland's 48-goal record scorer Włodzimierz Lubański. The teenager followed up his UEFA European Under-21 Championship treble in Friday's 5-1 win in Malta with another in the Poles' 3-1 Group 7 success against Greece.
"I was told by journalists than I am doing even better than Álvaro Morata from Real Madrid," he smiled after checking the tournament statistics in the wake of Tuesday's victory in Krakow. "I have scored nine goals in qualifying and Morata has eight. It is a very nice situation because we all know how good he is, but as for the team I am a realist and I know Spain are much better than Poland."
In Group 7, Marcin Dorna's Poland are out on their own, five points clear of second-ranked Turkey, though their main challengers for top spot have two games in hand. A place in the 2015 finals is Milik's target, but the goals will do him no harm in his day job. "My aim is to start matches from the first minute as I have only been a substitute until now," said Milik, currently on loan at Bundesliga side FC Augsburg. "Maybe these two hat-tricks will help give me more confidence."
Discovered playing for his local team Rozwój Katowice, Milik went on trial to Everton FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC as a 16-year-old, only to return home and sign for Górnik. The attacker was just 17 when awarded his debut in July 2011, and his 11 goals in 38 Polish First Division outings persuaded Leverkusen to take a chance on him. While he has been unable to dislodge Stefan Kiessling from the Leverkusen first XI, he scored his first Bundesliga goal in the second match of his Augsburg loan spell, against VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach in September.
The challenge now is to remind Leverkusen what they are missing. "Even if I have only played a few minutes for Bayer, I have never regretted going there," said the player voted Poland's prospect of the year in 2012. "I have learned a lot and want to show that at Augsburg. I hope the positive energy after these U21 matches will help me in the Bundesliga too."
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