While Poland's first UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship title owed much to team-work and organisation, the team's 2013 success also unearthed an individual talent in the form of forward Ewa Pajor.
Pajor was the creative force behind Poland's Nyon victory – a player with a rare mix of skill, fine movement and an eye for goal that has seen her likened to Lionel Messi back in her homeland. Although only 16 and still to prove whether she can carry through her potential to senior level, like all great players she flourished on the biggest stage of her career to date.
Before the tournament Pajor had already shown her talents on the domestic front, breaking into the senior team with club side KKPK Medyk Konin and helping them to second in the Polish Women's Premier League with nine goals in 16 appearances before starring in the country's cup final. Coming on as a half-time substitute against champions RTP Unia Racibórz, she scored twice to help them to a memorable triumph.
She also played a key role in Poland's qualification for their first Women's U17 finals. After two assists in their opening 4-0 defeat of Slovakia she made the most of 39 minutes on the pitch against the Faroe Islands with two goals in a 3-0 victory. In the second qualifying round she also made a telling contribution, scoring the opening goal in a 2-1 win against the Republic of Ireland before also netting in Norway in a 3-0 victory that secured their path to Switzerland.
Pajor made sure her name would be on the scoresheet for the third U17 tie in a row in Poland's semi-final against Belgium. A constant threat as the spearhead of a 4-2-3-1 formation, she scored the third goal in a 3-1 win when she rounded Belgium goalkeeper Diede Lemey before showing composure beyond her years to calmly slide the ball into an unguarded net.
Although she failed to extend her scoring streak in the final against Sweden, Pajor would again be the star turn. Three times in the first half she shook off the attentions of defenders using her trickery before shooting narrowly wide, as Poland looked to exploit her talents by getting the ball to her as often as possible.
"Let me say that Ewa Pajor is certainly an important individual, and everybody has probably noticed that," said Poland coach Zbigniew Witkowski after the final, while scorer of the winning goal Ewelina Kamczyk added: "She is kind of a pearl in our team.
"When she's on the pitch she helps us a great deal. She helps in building the game. I think she's becoming a bit like Cristiano Ronaldo in her play, and that is her asset. She helps the other girls, she doesn't shout but she gives them hints, and she always plays until the end. She simply helps the whole team."
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.