We are Poles, protest French duo
WARSAW, Poland ● French-born Poland stars Ludovic Obraniak and Damien Perquis on Tuesday hit back at claims of failing to fit into the Euro 2012 hosts’ squad.
“I’ve been in the squad for more than two years, and today I feel like I’m Polish. I love Poland, I love the Poles, and I love my team-mates too,” Bordeaux midfielder Obraniak said in heavily-accented Polish, drawing applause from reporters.
“The atmosphere in our group is really good, and I’m happy,” he added.
Obraniak said he was angry at having been misquoted in a French magazine interview which made headlines in Poland because he purportedly complained of feeling like a fish out of water in the side.
The former France under-21 international made his Poland debut in 2009, shortly after obtaining Polish citizenship thanks to his family roots.
FIFA allows youth internationals to switch country relatively easily, but senior side members cannot.
“We’re really happy to be here and, to underline what Ludo just said, we’re very well integrated,” said Perquis, in French.
“You can fell the great group atmosphere and, above all, a group that’s united ahead of the Euros.”
The 28-year-old Sochaux defender, like Obraniak capped at Under-21 level by France, won his first Poland cap last year after earning citizenship via his grandmother.
Perquis has been a particular target of Jan Tomaszewski, Poland’s 1970s goalkeeping icon who is now a right-wing MP and known for controversial outbursts.
Also in Tomaszewski’s sights are defender Sebastian Boenisch and midfielder Eugen Polanski, both born in Poland but who emigrated to Germany as toddlers and went on the play for their adopted homeland’s under-21s.
“I don’t want this kind of player in the national team,” Tomaszewski told AFP.
“They didn’t make it in their country’s senior team, so they chose to play for Poland.
“How can you motivate young Polish lads if they don’t have a chance of making it into the national team.”
Critics have repeatedly rounded on Tomaszewski, noting that his argument simply doesn’t add up because there are only a handful of players with foreign links in the squad.
They also note that the Polish football association began scouting abroad after criticism for losing the likes of Germany stars Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose, both born in Poland but raised in Germany.
But his related complaints about a dearth of youth academies in Poland have found a more willing audience, given that the bulk of the Polish Euro 2012 squad play in foreign leagues.