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Lech sensation Kownacki up for Poland duty

A KKS Lech Poznań sensation in recent weeks, Dawid Kownacki is keeping his feet on the ground as he switches his attention to Poland's elite round bid in Greece.

Dawid Kownacki, scoring goals for club and country
Dawid Kownacki, scoring goals for club and country ©PZPN

Dawid Kownacki has been a sensation in the Polish Ekstraklasa in recent weeks – and is now ready to fire his nation to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals.

Kownacki was not involved in October's qualifying round when three wins took Poland through to the elite round, where they face Group 2 hosts Greece, Norway and Turkey in Patras from Tuesday. But the attacking midfielder will definitely be the man to watch in the mini-tournament, having become KKS Lech Poznań's youngest-ever scorer, aged 16 years and 344 days, against MKS Pogoń Szczecin on 21 February.

"I will never forget this match as it was a very unusual one," Kownacki told UEFA.com. "I could not believe I scored but neither could I believe the result. We lost 5-1 and Marcin Robak got all the goals for Pogoń. I was happy because of the goal, but the result made me sad."

Only the fifth player under 17 to score in the Ekstraklasa, he had actually made his debut on 6 December in a crucial 2-0 defeat of Wisła Kraków. "It was Saint Nicholas's Day, but I don't think it was a gift from the coach," Kownacki said of his substitute cameo. "I worked hard and he thought I deserved the chance."

He has continued to make an impact, and on his 17th birthday – 14 March – Kownacki provided assists for both Lech goals in a 2-1 victory over TS Podbeskidzie Bielsko-Biala. Even the great Zbigniew Boniek, president of the Polish Football Federation (PZPN), was moved to tweet: "If there is good support for the player from his family, school, etc., Poland will have another very good player."

Kownacki responded: "Of course I read this and it is very nice, but on the other hand I don't read all opinions about me because I don't want to go mad. I know I still have a lot to learn. [Against Podbeskidzie] I started an Ekstraklasa game for the first time and was happy with my performance as I helped the team by winning the [decisive] penalty."

Ruled out of next weekend's 'Derby of Poland' at leaders Legia Warszawa due to his duties in Greece, Kownacki admitted: "I wish I could play, but representing my country is great source of pride and I am focused on helping the team qualify. As far as Lech are concerned, I do believe we can win the title this year. If I manage to qualify for the EURO finals and win the league, I would be extremely happy."

With the potential to follow in the footsteps of recent Lech graduates Robert Lewandowski and Artjoms Rudņevs, Kownacki has a fine international record too. "I will never forget my first game for Poland, it was an Under-15 friendly against Germany," he said. "We won 5-3 and I scored a hat-trick. Then we played another game against them, 2-2, and I scored twice. It was quite a good start for me!"