Poland's EURO record-breaker Kacper Kozłowski showing maturity beyond his years
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Poland midfielder Kacper Kozłowski isn't dwelling on becoming the youngest player in EURO history.
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Aged just 17 years and 246 days, Kacper Kozłowski became the youngest player in EURO finals history when he came on for Poland against Spain on Matchday 2. Breaking youth records is nothing new for Kozłowski, however.
The midfielder played his first game in the Polish top flight in May 2019, when still five months shy of his 16th birthday. That confirmed him as the youngest player in his club Pogoń Szczecin's history to appear in the top division and the youngest to feature in the Ekstraklasa in the 21st century.
Kozłowski also managed to write a new chapter in the national-team history books before this EURO. On 28 March this year, he made his senior international bow at the age of 17 years and 163 days. Only the legendary Włodzimierz Lubański, second on the list of Poland's all-time leading scorers, was younger on his debut, at 16 years and 188 days.
"Of course, in some ways it's an incredible feeling to play at such a young age for the national team and to have the chance to play a few minutes at the EURO, but my attitude hasn't changed and I'm striving to play more for the national team,” Kozłowski told EURO2020.com at Poland's base camp in Sopot.
Kozłowski may have long been considered a domestic wonderkid, but many were nevertheless surprised when Paulo Sousa opted to include him in his EURO squad. That the coach brought him on in such a decisive fixture speaks volumes about the regard Sousa holds him in.
"The coach just told me to play my game, keep on the ball and not be afraid to take risks," the talented teenager said.
The Polish media have reacted warmly to Kozłowski's cameos, highlighting his calmness and maturity. "Personally for me, it's better to play against better teams that prefer to play a more open game and are more skilled technically," he said.
His progress on the pitch has been on an upward curve for some time, though he did have a difficult period following a car accident in January 2020.
"I think that as a human being this definitely changed me, but in terms of football, I feel no difference between how it was then and how it is right now," he said.
Onwards and upwards, then. Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny is full of praise for his rookie team-mate. "I like Kacper very much because, regardless of his age, he has character and he takes responsibility," the Juventus No1 told EURO2020.com. "That's not easy at the age of 17. I think if he manages his career well in the coming years, he'll be of great use to our national side."
The spotlight on Kozłowski is only set to get brighter.