Borussia Dortmund midfielder and Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski looks forward to Euro 2012
How would you describe the mood in the camp going into the Euros?
Very good. A few players changed their clubs in winter to have a greater chance to play regularly, and thus be best-prepared for the Championship. The beginnings of creating this team were hard, but now we are optimistic about our chances. Our goal is to step out of the group; after that, anything could happen. If we reach the quarter-finals there won't be such great pressure.
What do you make of the group you're in?
The draw was fortunate for us, but it doesn't mean we are the favourites. We can't say we are better than Czech Republic, Greece or Russia. Yet with good preparation and some luck, we will be able to advance.
Which teams do you count as the favourites this time around?
For me, Germany and Spain. The Spanish team will want to defend their title and I bet they will succeed.
How do you rate England?
England have great potential. In recent years they haven't been very successful, but they may play a large part in Euro 2012. They have a few young players and a few experienced ones – a good recipe for success.
Are there any rising Polish stars we should keep an eye out for, should they make the squad?
I wouldn't like the biggest star of our team to be the goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny. This would mean we didn't play well and did a lot of defending! We have very good goalkeepers – let them remain in the shadows. Ha ha!
From an individual point of view, what are your own aims heading into the summer?
I'm stepping into the best possible age for a soccer player [he's 26] and so the timing of this championship is ideal for me. I feel that this is my time and I would like to be in my best shape in June.
How much responsibility will you have leading Poland into the tournament on home soil?
I realise that as captain I have a lot of responsibility, but I've shown that I deal well with pressure. This is a dream come true for me. Even when I was a child with my friends in the playground, before every match I would sing the national anthem, imagining that I was playing in the national colours.
What will it mean to Poland to co-host the tournament?
I see nothing but benefits. We can promote ourselves in Europe – many tourists will come and see our beautiful country. Until now it hasn't been advertised enough; there aren't many countries with both seaside and stunning mountains. As a country we have great potential, and the infrastructure has been developed to a great extent. This championship can help our country a lot.
Interview by Wojciech Szaniawski. From the June 2012 issue of FourFourTwo.