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Ice-cool Mila shooting high with Śląsk

Sebastian Mila's cousin plays ice hockey in the NHL and the WKS Śląsk Wrocław captain wants to reach "the best league in the world in my sport" as his team take on Helsingborgs IF.

Śląsk captain Sebastian Mila led his 'overachieving' side to the Polish title last season
Śląsk captain Sebastian Mila led his 'overachieving' side to the Polish title last season ©Cyfrasport

Sporting pedigree runs in Sebastian Mila's family, and the WKS Śląsk Wrocław captain told UEFA.com he is ready to make an impression of his own at the top level after his side already proved the doubters wrong in Poland.

Śląsk host Helsingborgs IF in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie on Wednesday, and Mila said: "Even in Poland, Śląsk are underestimated. People said we overachieved when we finished runners-up two years ago, and then said it was unbelievable when we won the league last season. They said that was our absolute limit so now we hear we can't qualify for the Champions League group stage – again, we are out to prove them wrong."

If Mila is not personally daunted by the challenge, he has a certain amount of sporting excellence in his family to back up his ambition. "My cousin Wojtek Wolski plays ice hockey in the NHL – the best league in the world," the 30-year-old midfielder, capped 30 times by his country, said. "I want to follow his steps and play in the best league in the world in my sport – the Champions League.

"I know it won't be easy nor painless, but we are determined," he continued. "I think we can overcome Helsingborg." His belief has been further emboldened by Śląsk's pre-season schedule. The Polish champions staged a mini-tournament at their stadium – which was used for UEFA EURO 2012 – with games against the likes of SL Benfica and Athletic Club, and Mila said it gave his team a taste for "big football".

He added: "We were curious to see how these technically better players play their football. I treated the tournament like opening a new bank account: you invest in it and wait for a profit down the line. We lost a couple of games, yes, but the long-term benefits will be shown. I also want our amazing stadium to breathe top-level football again."

Helsingborg will also hope their preparations stand them in good stead. Åge Hareide's side played their first pre-season game against a Polish outfit, Wisła Kraków, in the Algarve. While Hareide was satisfied with the way the Swedish champions came through the second qualifying round against The New Saints FC, winning 3-0 on aggregate, he would have been less happy as they lost at home in the Allsvenskan for the first time since October 2010 on Saturday, 2-1 to IFK Norrköping.

Nevertheless, Helsingborg left-back and former Swedish international Erik Edman welcomes the succession of key games. "Playing plenty of big matches is what we want," he said.

A play-off place is the prize, but Mila has promised them a tough test, concluding: "Śląsk are like someone who prepares fresh fruit juice. We already squeezed a lot out in winning the Polish title, but want to squeeze much more and if we reach the Champions League group stage, that juice will taste the best."