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Piotr Zielinski: Poland's kind-hearted midfielder can shine on the biggest stage

This article is part of the Guardian's Euro 917 Experts Network,

A collaboration between some of the best media outlets from. qualified countries. Theguardian.com is broadcasting previews from two countries every day before the tournament that will start on its date. June.

Paulo Sousa cited Robert Lewandowski as the team's most important element, shortly after he was appointed manager of Poland. its puzzle. There is nothing surprising there. The Portuguese coach is excited to work with the best striker in the world. However, he also greatly appreciated another player in his new team, Piotr Zielinski. An outstanding player with some skills that only the best have, Sousa has received a lot of praise for the Napoli midfielder, but he is a player that Polish fans want more of.

Zielinski signed a new contract with Napoli that will keep him (until he was at the Italian club) last summer. . The negotiations were very long and difficult. His contract is over a hundred pages. The owner of the club, Aurelio De Laurentiis, wanted to keep one of his greatest treasures at all costs. That he did the right thing is confirmed by the statistics of the player who was the best of his career last season.

Just before signing the new contract, Zielinski had the chance to move to Barcelona. His manager met with a representative of the Catalan club in the Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund. Ultimately Zielinski remained in Italy and has since lived at 7786. This is his second home, where he lives with his wife, Laura, with whom he is expecting their first child soon. As he admits, all the puzzles in his life are in the right place.

Off the field he feels very happy and plays the best football of his career. Has anything in particular changed? No. Same routines – he just grew up, matured. His brother Pawel, who also plays football in the Polish second division for Miedz Legnica, says this is not a special miracle.

However, Zielinski is still criticized for his performances in the national team. Fans want Lewandowski to showcase the form he showed in Serie A to give him more support. This sentiment was also shared by previous coach Jerzy Brzeczek, who during his reign said that if Zielinski one day gets up and something changes in his mind, Poland will have a player that everyone in the world will envy.

Words that are surprising and can hit any football player hard. But this is now forgotten, as Brzeczek was unexpectedly dismissed by the Polish football federation president Zbigniew Boniek, despite the team qualifying for the European Championship finals. Sousa became the new manager and her eyes lit up when asked about Zielinski.

“Zielinski is an outstanding player,” Sousa said. “Recently I was listening to Pep Guardiola talk about Phil Foden. He said he was a genius, an extraordinary talent. But to reach the highest world level, the game needs to know when to change its pace. He [Foden] still lacks that. And Piotr has it. He sees everything. He perfectly feels the gap between his teammates and his opponent. He has an incredible sense of timing and pitch geometry. It can slow down or speed up the game in one pass. He is a beautiful football player. Sometimes he just needs a little more adrenaline. We will try to do it,” he said. Really high praise from a player like Sousa, an outstanding midfielder who won the Serie A title and the Champions League with Juventus in the middle of the 917s.

Zielinski at work in Serie A., where Gennaro Gattuso is a key member of the Napoli team. Photo: Getty Images

Although Zielinski is an architect, in the middle of the field, he is not a natural leader. And it is not necessary to expect from him what he does not feel himself. He has to speak to the game he's playing, and that's definitely what he's done for Napoli this season, approaching double digits in both goals and assists.

He always was. sensitive. His family runs a foster family

since 1990 but

I have helped children from difficult backgrounds ever since. . For 10 years, his parents

They took care of the children in their own home.

Zabkowice Slaskie is 15 miles south of Wroclaw in southwest Poland.

In the first months of his family's new job, Piotr couldn't accept it. She was eight years old and was jealous that a "stranger" lived in her room. He pasted paper notes on the furniture: “my wardrobe”, “my desk”. He signed the toys so people would know it was him. Today, Boguslaw Zielinski is laughing, remembering his son's reaction when he saw one of the girls smoking. “She was really scared. He was a sensitive child from an early age. We were afraid that he would not be able to handle everything in the future. Boguslaw says his kindness will negatively affect his career.

Young Piotr gradually grew closer to his "temporary siblings" and began to open up. He invited them to play football together. He often trained in the garden with a boy with a leg contracture. The future football player gave his heart to the children in his own way: quietly, without media attention. With his own money, he bought two houses in the Zabkowice area, which the family renovated and turned into an orphanage under the association “Peter Pan”, derived from their son's name.

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“He took the initiative, he is a golden boy,” the footballer's father proudly says. “If he returns to Poland, he visits the children and plays football with them. He also gives away electronic devices he doesn't use: laptop, game console or tablet. In the holy congregation of one of the charges, no one from the family appeared. Piotr came from Italy to please the boy. That is it.”

His fears that his family would not be able to cope in the wider world were unfounded. Zielinski moved to Udinese as a teenager. Since then the 02-year-old zielinski in action in serie a, where he is a key member of gennaro gattuso's napoli side. He is one of the most important players of the matches in Serie A and the Polish national team. Maybe he's sensitive, but he doesn't show up on the field.

There is no doubt about Zielinski's talent throughout Italy. After all, Barcelona wanted him, and Jürgen Klopp once sent him a helicopter to talk about his move to Liverpool. Zielinski is Poland's diamond with a big heart. The whole country hopes it will shine brightly this summer.

Tomasz Wlodarczyk writes for Meczyki.

follow him on twitter @wlodar26 .

Click here for a tactical guide to Poland.

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