Having been mentioned in the same breath as FC Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi, Ewa Pajor is now making her own headlines as she aims to steer Poland to a maiden Under-17 title.
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Billed as the Lionel Messi of Polish women's football and with Real Madrid CF star Cristiano Ronaldo her inspiration, you get the feeling striker Ewa Pajor is fearless in front of goal.
After registering four times en route to securing Poland's debut appearance at the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship, the 16-year-old is now making her mark on the final tournament, finding the net in a 3-1 semi-final defeat of Belgium on Tuesday. "I have confidence in myself, and composure," Pajor told UEFA.com. "The girls help me too. I receive good passes and I have taken advantage of those situations."
Pajor has already broken into the senior team at her club KKPK Medyk Konin, scoring nine goals – including a maiden senior hat-trick – in 16 appearances as they clinched second place in the Polish women's Premier League. Indeed, she knows that replicating such form on the international stage in Nyon could raise her profile even higher. "I know that different managers are watching us. I think a manager might see me and become interested in the way I play," she said.
Due to turn 17 in December, Pajor is aware of the need to balance progress on the pitch with educational priorities, something she admits is difficult. "I have to cope with it in some way. I have a lot of training sessions, practically every day, but I somehow manage to do it. There are also a lot of league matches, but I find the time to study too. I think I would like to carry on my education and play football at the same time," she said.
Another player with a penchant for scoring goals serves as an ideal role model, meanwhile. "He [Ronaldo] is my favourite player. I think he is one of the best players. He is very hard-working and I try to learn a lot from him, because I like hard-working people. I like his speed, dribbling and free-kicks – it is amazing when he shoots."
On Friday, Pajor hopes to add to her own goal tally in the most important game of her fledgling career, when Poland face Sweden in the U17 final. "It has definitely been a great experience, because I have never played in a European Championship before and so far it's been a great success," she concluded.