Slawomir Peszko and His Many Happy Returns

I can admit when I’m wrong…sometimes.

When news surfaced (and went away and resurfaced…again and again…) that 1. FC Köln was interested in getting Slawomir Peszko back into the team, I was somewhat unenthusiastic about the possibility. Not only was I willing to dismiss him as somewhat a problem based solely on a publicized night in the drunk tank. I had considered him a solid player, but I also always worry about a guy who doesn’t seem to “get it.”

And, when you’re a professional athlete at a high-profile club and you fail to realize the sort of trouble getting into a drunken dispute with a cab driver will bring, you don’t “get it.”

Slightly better behavior around the taxis these days.
Photo borrowed from Eduard Bopp

Even though I completely believe in second chances, I wasn’t ready for Peszko’s return. Simply, I believed the club was well stocked at midfield to the point where Peszko would be either an extra on the bench, perhaps marinating on a lack of playing time, which certainly can lead to unwanted behavior in some types, or he’d be taking time away from players not on some strange loan deal from an Italian side.

What I failed to consider was just how motivated the player might be to rehabilitate his image both on and off the pitch. While I can’t speak to what he’s doing away from the club, I can say, without hesitation, that his play, even in somewhat limited action, has been spectacular.

Peszko has started just twice in his six appearances since returning to the Domstadt, but he’s already credited with 2 goals and four assists. Because it’s fresh in my mind, he should have had another assist over the weekend in Karlsruhe when he crossed the ball to Anthony Ujah who seemed too surprised the Pole didn’t take the shot himself to properly tap the ball into the next.

Could’ve…should’ve…would’ve…we don’t need it. Peszko is playing well enough without pointing to the near-misses.

So, as a way of recognizing the inspired play of Peszko and his contribution to the continued excellence of the team in the Peter Stöger era, I hereby apologize for any doubt I had toward him. I’d even go so far as to say I’d love to see him play a little bit more, though his role as a catalyst off the bench has served the cause quite well.

I’m certain he’s proud to have my seal of approval.

Similarly, Peszko can also be proud that the Polish national team has noticed his form and nominated him for national duty for the first time since April 2012, making the total number of Effzeh players representing their countries during the current international break to seven.

Only one of these guys is playing for Poland this week. Guess which! Photo borrowed from Herbert Bucco

Poland currently sits fourth in Group H, three points behind current group leader England and two behind Ukraine and Montenegro. The Poles can pass Ukraine with a victory Friday in Kharkov, which would set the stage for a huge group finale in London against England. Anything fewer than six points from the two matches would spell the end to any but the most-remote of hopes of Poland continuing to Brazil.

Peszko clearly understands the need for victory, comparing the situation to “having a knife at one’s throat” and calling for the squad to show their “Polish character,” keeping in mind that two wins could even win the group, should things fall the right way.

Speaking to the media Tuesday, Peszko indicated Polish national coach Waldemar Fornalik has definitely been paying attention to Peszko’s successes under Stöger, telling reporters Fornalik told him he will “have the role of the joker.”

Sidebar: I had to have “joker” explained to me at one point. So, in case you’re in the dark on that…The “joker” is the guy who comes on as a substitute and (ideally) scores. Get it?! Joker’s wild…wild card…boom!

Polish players assemble before the media in Warsaw Tuesday.

Of course, “joker” has a more denotative meaning as well. To this end, Peszko told reporters about his travel to Warsaw from Köln.

“I flew by plane and then used a taxi,” explained Pesko. “I assure you that everything was fine.”

Clearly, Peszko’s joking mood is somewhat inspired by a turn of events that took him from not knowing whether or where he’d be playing just two months ago to playing well enough with 1. FC Köln to have earned the right to again wear the Poland jersey.

“I’ll be very happy if I have even a minute to play in the scene.”

At the end of Peszko’s time speaking at the press conference, he offered a nice bit of confidence I think will serve him well the next week, as well as his stated goal of helping the Effzeh return to the Bundesliga.

“Why should we win against Ukraine and England,” he asked with a grin. “Because I arrived.”

 

(Polish to English courtesy of Google Translate, so blame them if it’s all wrong!)

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