'Dudinho' looking lively for Legia
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Nicknamed 'Ondrej Di María' and 'Dudinho' for his silky skills, Legia Warszawa teenager Ondrej Duda was at pains to remind UEFA.com: "I am Slovakian and not Brazilian."
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Evading two challenges before finishing in style, Ondrej Duda scored the goal of his young life in Legia Warszawa's 1-0 UEFA Europa League win at FC Metalist Kharkiv on matchday three. However, there could be plenty more to come from the skilful 19-year-old, who is shining in his first full campaign in the Ekstraklasa.
"It was the most beautiful goal of my career," the attacking midfielder told UEFA.com ahead of Thursday's rematch with Metalist. "I scored a similar one in the past although that was for my youth team. But my goal was not the only great moment in the match: Dušan Kuciak saved a penalty and our fans in Kyiv made us feel like the home side. Metalist are a good team but when we are at home, we will feel strong and ready to take the next step. The only thing we are planning for Thursday is three points."
With Warsaw staging this season's UEFA Europa League final, Legia have raised their game considerably; they won just once in last season's group stage but come into matchday four as one of only three sides yet to drop a point in the tournament. "Fiorentina, Dinamo Moskva and Legia Warszawa," beamed Duda as he listed the other teams on nine points so far. "Being in that company means a lot."
A midwinter signing last term from MFK Košice in his native Slovakia, Duda has played his part for Henning Berg's men, with Legia stalwart Miroslav Radović – one of the most consistent performers in Polish football – going so far as to label Duda his "footballing son". "Radović is injured but before the Metalist game he told me I would fill in for him and score," Duda said. "I did and I am glad I did not disappoint him, because he not only calls me his son but also 'Ondrej Di María'."
Being likened to Manchester United FC's Ángel Di María is some compliment for such a young player – but far from the only one he had received. "Some people started to call me 'Dudinho' because of my technical ability, but I can assure you all that I am Slovakian and not Brazilian," said Duda, a Slovak Under-21 international, with a smile.
Besides being a goalscorer, Duda also tops the group stage's fouls committed chart with 15 in his first three Group L outings, which might not just be a measure of his commitment to the cause. "Maybe it is because I am not that experienced," he said. "I sometimes commit fouls which I could avoid but I promise to work on it."
He is certainly working on every other aspect of his game, and – like the rest of his Legia team-mates – is not ruling out the possibility of taking the field at Warsaw's National Stadium come the final on 27 May. "We are taking it step by step, but I admit the thought has crossed our minds – the key is to stay modest, but why not dream?," conceded Duda, who received his first senior international call-up this week, adding: "My parents come from Slovakia to watch most of Legia's matches. I imagine there would be a fair few more family members wanting tickets if we got to the final."