Sevilla FC's Grzegorz Krychowiak turns 25 today, with the Polish international midfielder saying: "I dream about winning the Europa League final in my home country."
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Grzegorz Krychowiak's first season in Spain is going superbly, the midfielder drawing admiring glances as Sevilla FC took 39 points in the autumn – their biggest-ever haul in the first half of a Liga campaign. UEFA.com salutes the industrious birthday boy, who is hoping to head back to Poland for the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League final in Warsaw.
Clubs: FC Girondins de Bordeaux, Stade de Reims (loan), FC Nantes (loan), Stade de Reims, Sevilla FC
UEFA honours: none
• Born in Gryfice, Poland, in 1990, Krychowiak was lured into football by his older brother Krzystof; he was nurtured at a number of local clubs but completed his footballing education in France, where he was under contract at Bordeaux from 2008–12.
• Made just two league outings for Bordeaux, yet established his reputation with loan spells at Reims and Nantes.
• France is a special place for Krychowiak. "This is my second home," he said. "I started playing professional football here, finished my studies, met my fiancee Celia, and played in Ligue 1. We made it all the way from the third division to get there with Reims, and I have such great memories, like beating PSG with Zlatan Ibrahimović. One of my biggest dreams is to go back to France with my national team for EURO 2016."
• Nicknamed 'Le Plombier' (the plumber) and 'Le Bûcheron' (the woodcutter) in France, acknowledging his willingness to do dirty work and his physical presence in midfield.
• Joined Reims on a long-term deal in 2012, then switched to Sevilla in summer 2014 for a reported €4.5m fee. Krychowiak said: "A couple of years ago, I wouldn't have even dared to think that I would play in Spain. Germany or England seemed more realistic destinations, but here I am at Sevilla, in an amazing club and a city which breathes football."
• Made his Sevilla debut in the 2-0 UEFA Super Cup loss to Real Madrid CF in Cardiff.
• First capped at Under-17 level as a 15-year-old, Krychowiak worked his way up and has now made 24 senior appearances, scoring his first goal in the 4-0 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying success against Georgia. "I waited quite a long time for my first goal and I am glad it finally happened," he said.
"If we asked him to play this afternoon, he would definitely say yes, and that's a good thing. I've not coached many players who will tell their coach they're willing to play through the pain barrier for you."
Sevilla coach Unai Emery
"He is a trooper, the kind of player every coach dreams of working with."
Former Reims coach Hubert Fournier
"I dream about winning the Europa League final in my home country. It would be something special for me. I know there is a long, difficult path ahead but I do believe we can do it."