Fast-tracked to the seniors after playing a key role in Poland's women's U17 win last summer, Ewa Pajor explains how Cristiano Ronaldo and her cousin inspired her.
Article top media content
Poland made history by winning the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship in Nyon last summer but as they attempt to earn a return to the finals next month in England, their star player has been fast-tracked to the seniors.
The 16-year-old Ewa Pajor is still eligible at U17 level, and helped Poland through the UEFA European Women's U19 Championship qualifying round last month, but she is now preparing for FIFA Women's World Cup fixtures in France and at home to Scotland later in October.
The KKPK Medyk Konin striker was the key to Poland's first ever women's international triumph as they beat Belgium and Sweden in Nyon to lift the continental trophy, scoring goals throughout the run and giving full rein to her array of skills in the final.
Team-mate Ewelina Kamczyk said: "She is kind of a pearl in our team. Of course, 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."
Though many in Poland have described Pajor as a female Lionel Messi, she is indeed inspired by Portuguese forward Ronaldo. "I learn from Cristiano Ronaldo – he is my favourite player," Pajor told UEFA.com. "He is very hard-working. I try to learn a lot from him, because I like hard-working people."
Ronaldo is not her only role model. Her cousin Krystian Nowak, who plays for RTS Widzew Łódź, has been a source of advice since she first became interested in the game. "It was a long time ago," Pajor said. "I was six, maybe seven years old. My cousin encouraged me. He used to come to my village and we played together. He used to teach me. Then I started to play in primary school.
"That's where the manager from Medyk Konin saw me, that is my current club. I have lived in Konin since I was 12, and that is where I play."
Aged 15, Pajor broke into the Medyk senior team, scoring nine goals in 16 Premier League games as they won the Polish title. "I think speed, and maybe also the way I shoot," is how she describes her strengths. "I have confidence in myself, and composure. The girls help me too. I get good passes, and I have taken advantage of those situations."