Kamil Glik celebrates Poland’s win over Germany with his daughter – photo Jordan Berndt
Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, there’s not much more to say after witnessing Poland defeat Germany 2-0 in a marvellous rearguard action that no-one was expecting, AT ALL. But even if there isn’t much to say, I’ll have a go at saying it.
Since I’ve been following Polish football closely over the last couple of years, I’ve very nearly drowned in the negativity surrounding the sport. Constant irony and mockery are the tools with which Poles cope with the corruption, poor youth training, not great quality of league and the myriad other problems which face the game on these shores. For the uninitiated it’s pretty tough going, as you wade through the quicksand of despair and pain. There have unfortunately been very few moments of pure joy to pull me out of the quagmire.
In late summer a smidgen of light appeared in the darkness as Legia Warsaw hammered Celtic, only for UEFA to kick the club out of Europe due to the late entrance of an ineligible player, Bartosz Bereszyński. From joy, Polish attitudes quickly turned to anger and bitterness – suddenly everything had gone back to normal.
Tonight, finally, I saw something different. No-one gave Poland a chance against the world champions Germany. Several thought that Poland might be able to scrape a lucky draw. In the first half Poland performed relatively typically – bursting enthusiastically out of the traps, but as the half progressed they dropped deeper and deeper and deeper. Somehow they made it to half-time on level terms.
Before the second half commenced most expected the Germans to come away with an easy win. But out of the blue first Arek Milik and then incredibly Sebastian Mila scored the goals to give Poland their first ever win over Germany in 19 attempts.
The joy that exploded on Twitter was infectious. Picture after picture of celebrating players, and positive commentary after positive commentary. Here, finally were the smiles that allow people to get through the hard times. Here finally was the optimism and belief that I know exists somewhere behind all those sarcastic, bitter jokes. Polish fans were finally happy, and I have to say I kinda liked it.