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Poland walk in giants' footsteps

The Poland squad were given an inspiring lesson in Polish footballing history as they were taken on a guided tour round an exhibition at Warsaw's Palace of Culture and Science.

The Polish team were shown round an exhibition at Warsaw's Palace of Culture and Science
The Polish team were shown round an exhibition at Warsaw's Palace of Culture and Science ©AFP

On Monday evening, the Poland squad visited the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw where they took in the Great Football Exhibition, including a fascinating collection curated by renowned Polish journalist Stefan Szczepłek.

The players were given a brief talk against the impressive backdrop of a giant photograph of Poland's winning team from the 1972 Olympic Games, with Szczepłek eager to underline that the current squad are following in illustrious footsteps. "You are sitting in front of a very important picture," he told them. "This is when proper football really started in Poland."

The players then followed their guide on a tour of the exhibition, which includes signed shirts from luminaries such as Pelé, Diego Maradona, Franz Beckenbauer and UEFA President Michel Platini. Special attention was paid to memorabilia made available by the family of Kazimierz Górski – the visionary manager of that 1972 side, who also led Poland to third place at the 1974 FIFA World Cup – along with numerous exhibits related to one of the famous players of that era, Kazimierz Deyna.

"It's a great idea for the players to do something like this," said forward Paweł Brożek. "It's not just about killing time; it's good to do something that's really interesting and to learn more about the great Polish sides of the past. Of course, it will be difficult to replicate the success of the Poland team of the 1970s, but seeing this exhibition acts as a motivation for the players.

"As it happens, I also collect football memorabilia and my favourite shirt is the one I got from Gerard Piqué during my time at Wisła Kraków, when we played Barcelona in the Champions League," the 29-year-old added. "I will treasure that shirt forever, so yes, I enjoyed this exhibition because it means you can think about something else and not just focus on the game all the time. You would go crazy if you did that all the time."

After completing their tour, the players signed three Poland strips which will be added to the exhibition, which runs until late autumn. The dream, of course, is that one day those will be priceless mementos of another glorious Polish side.