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UEFA EURO 2020 contenders in focus: Poland

We continue our look at the history and pedigree of all 24 UEFA EURO 2020 contenders. Next up: Poland.

Robert Lewandowski scores Poland's EURO 2012 opener
Robert Lewandowski scores Poland's EURO 2012 opener Getty Images

EURO pedigree

Previous final tournaments: 3
EURO best: quarter-finals (2016)

Despite twice finishing third at FIFA World Cup finals (in 1974 and 1982), Poland struggled to qualify for EUROs until they made their debut under Leo Beenhakker in 2008. They failed to make it beyond the group stage in their first two attempts (the second as co-hosts with Ukraine) but made amends in France in 2016.

Key players

Robert Lewandowski: All of his European Qualifiers goals
Robert Lewandowski: All of his European Qualifiers goals

Robert Lewandowski (116 caps and 63 goals)
Poland's top international scorer and most-capped player of all time, Lewandowski is also team captain. Widely considered as his nation's greatest ever player, the 32-year-old Bayern striker has been the fulcrum of this team for some years.

Wojciech Szczęsny (49 caps)
Only the second Polish player to star at Juventus, Szczęsny followed in the footsteps of 1980s hero Zbigniew Boniek, who is now president of the Polish Football Association (PZPN). Szczęsny's father Maciej also played in goal for Poland, and is the only player to have won Polish titles with four different clubs.

Memorable EURO goals

• Poland's first EURO finals goal was scored by Roger Guerreiro, against co-hosts Austria in 2008. Ivica Vastic levelled from the spot to make it 1-1.

• Robert Lewandowski headed the first goal of EURO 2012 as the co-hosts met Greece, but there was disappointment in Warsaw as the game ended 1-1.

• Arkadiusz Milik's goal against Northern Ireland in 2016 earned Poland a 1-0 win and their first victory at a EURO final tournament. They breezed through to the knockout phase without conceding in the group stage.

Memorable moments

Watch stunning Blaszczykowski EURO 2012 strike
Watch stunning Blaszczykowski EURO 2012 strike

• Jakub Błaszczykowski's equaliser against Russia in Poland's second EURO 2012 game was a fine finish from the edge of the box, and a huge relief for the Warsaw crowd in what was an emotionally charged encounter.

• Grzegorz Krychowiak's penalty in the EURO 2016 round of 16 shoot-out against Switzerland; with the sides level at 4-4 on spot-kicks, the midfielder stepped up to send his team into the last eight with a textbook conversion.

• Błaszczykowski's miss in the quarter-final shoot-out against Portugal. Rui Patrício's one-handed save teed up Ricardo Quaresma to win the game; Łukasz Fabiański got a hand to his effort but could not keep it out.

Stats

Most final tournament appearances
8: Jakub Błaszczykowski, Robert Lewandowski, Łukasz Piszczek

Most final tournament goals

3: Jakub Błaszczykowski
2: Robert Lewandowski
1: Roger Guerreiro, Arkadiusz Milik

Watch Lewandowski score first goal of EURO 2012
Watch Lewandowski score first goal of EURO 2012

Killer stat: Only two players featured in all three of Poland's first EURO finals campaigns: Łukasz Piszczek and Jakub Wawrzyniak.

Did you know?

• Plenty of Polish coaches tried and failed to reach a EURO before Dutchman Leo Beenhakker broke the duck, steering the national team to EURO 2008.

• Poland's first EURO goalscorer Roger Guerreiro was born in São Paulo, Brazil. He became a Polish citizen in April 2008, midway through a successful spell at Legia Warszawa. His strike against Austria was Poland's only goal of that tournament.

• Long-term rivals to be Poland's first-choice goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczęsny and Łukasz Fabiański have plenty in common; both are former Legia Warszawa and Arsenal players, and they even share a birthday: 18 April. Born in 1990, Szczęsny is five years Fabiański's junior.