Poland hope to dance to Wolski's beat
After saving his club Legia Warsaw's honour following a season-end slide from the top of the table, 19-year-old Poland newcomer Rafal Wolski is bracing to enter the international spotlight at Euro 2012.
Uncapped Wolski was the only real surprise on manager Franciszek Smuda's squad for the European championship, which co-hosts Poland kick off in the capital Warsaw on June 8.
"I opted for Rafal because I like his technique. He can play different combinations and turn the tide of a match. He's an allrounder and able to play as a midfielder or a striker," said Smuda.
"Every tournament reveals new stars and maybe Wolski will be among those to emerge at Euro 2012," he said.
Born on November 10, 1992 in Kozienice, south of Warsaw, Wolski played seven seasons with nearby schoolboy side Jastrzab Glowaczow.
He signed for Legia in 2008 and was part of their squads who were runners-up in Poland's junior championship in 2009 and 2010.
His brother Pawel, a year younger, is a defender in Legia's youth team.
Rafal made his senior Legia debut in March 2011 in a Polish Cup game and scored his first goal that September in Legia's 4-1 rout of minnows Rozwoj Katowice in the competition's next edition.
His 2011-2012 season tally was six goals in 21 league matches and two in the cup, plus two assists in Legia's Europa League matches with Rapid Bucharest and Sporting Lisbon.
The final flourish of a season that saw him voted discovery of the year came on May 6, when Legia beat Korona Kielce 1-0 thanks to his goal and secured third place in the table.
"I reckon that was my best goal of the season. It got us the three points we needed," Wolski told his club's website legia.com. "Personally, I've made massive progress this season.
"Playing in a packed stadium at Euro 2012 would be a dream come true but I have to work hard and show the boss I deserve my slot."
The Korona match helped take the edge off a disappointing final run by the long-term leaders and 2012 cup winners, long seen a safe bet for their first league title since 2006 and the ninth in their history.
Wolski is reportedly on the radar of clubs in Germany, which has proven fertile territory for Polish footballers looking to hit the big time.
Valued at 1.1 million euros by specialist website transfermarkt.de, he would be a snip for a Bundesliga side.
Among the interested parties cited are champions Borussia Dortmund –already home to the talismanic Polish trio of striker Robert Lewandowski, midfielder and Poland captain Kuba Blaszczykowski, and defender Lukasz Piszczek.
However, Smuda reckons the youngster should stay in Poland for now, noting that the fate of teenagers moving abroad has not always been rosy, as it can entail sitting on the substitutes bench all too often.
"Clubs are asking about him because they can see he has talent. But the best thing for him would be that if he signed a contract, it had a clause stipulating that he stay in Poland for another year," he said.
"He's still not physically prepared for the Bundesliga," he added.
Wolski made his international debut with Poland's Under-17s in 2009 and worked his way up to the Under-20s.
Despite being a teenager, Wolski won't suffer from a major age gap in the national team.
Smuda has selected a young squad as the unheralded Poles seek to emulate the exploits of their country's 1970s and 1980s generation – Lewandowski is just 23 while goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, of English Premier League side Arsenal, is 22.