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Kapustka: Poland's beloved 'little cabbage'


One of the ten teenagers featuring at UEFA EURO 2016, Cracovia midfielder Bartosz Kapustka has been something of a sensation in France, the 19-year-old drawing praise from the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, as well as ex-England stars Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker. He spoke to EURO2016.com about his rising stardom.

On kind words from big names …

It is really nice to get these comments; it’s a big thing for me. I used to watch Rio Ferdinand on TV because I was a big Manchester United fan. And the President is the most important person in the country.

For me the most important opinions are those of my family, especially my father who is keeping very calm about all this. When I played youth football, I would come home from games feeling very happy after scoring two or three goals, and my father was always calming me down saying what I could have done better. But after the Northern Ireland game he congratulated me and that meant a lot.

On playing against Germany …

Was I disappointed I did not start? In a sense, yes. I am a footballer. Everybody wants to play and everybody wants to be in the starting XI.

But at the same time, I came on to play ten minutes of football that I’ve been waiting for my whole life – competing against players that previously I only played against in computer games.

On being dubbed ‘The Most Expensive Little Cabbage in the World’ (Kapustka means ‘little cabbage’ in Polish) …

My team-mates showed me some of the stuff online; it’s impossible not to be aware of it. They are just jokes and that’s how you have to see them.

Being one of the ten teenagers at the finals is a big deal. Of course, I have dreamed about playing for Poland since I was a boy, but it wasn’t something I imagined would happen any time soon – and now it has. When I was in my first years at secondary school I had a run of injuries; I didn’t really stand out among my peers. I sometimes thought: “What if it doesn’t work out? What if I have to start doing something else?” And now I am here in France. This is amazing!

On playing in front of such a big audience …

There’s nothing better for me than playing in this kind of arena. I love it – it spurs me on even more. I’m happy to go onto the pitch in front of a crowd of 40, 50 or 60 thousand, or even more. That doesn’t stress me out – quite the opposite, I get a real kick out of it.

On Poland’s chances of ‘doing a Greece’ at UEFA EURO 2016 …

I still remember Greece’s UEFA EURO 2004 campaign pretty well. Of course it’s possible. We’re taking it one game at a time and we’re not thinking about any long-term objectives. The most important thing is always to win the next game and that could get us to the final. Even against teams that may be a little better in terms of technique, we have implemented our coach’s tactics and stood up to our opponents. Every game we win gives us an enormous boost. We’ve already achieved a lot, but I hope this will only spur us on even further.

Bartosz Kapustka (Poland)©AFP/Getty Images



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