The “P-Frage”: The Podolski question keeps being asked . . . and we can’t stop talking about it.

For the few of you who do read this out of curiosity and/or courtesy to me, rather than because it’s among the few sources for English-language writing about the 1. FC Köln, let me run you a few details.

The rest of you can skip down a bit.

  • The man pictured above is named Lukas Podolski.
  • Lukas Podolski is pretty good at the football, to the point of being a long-time fixture with the German national team.
  • ‘Poldi’ grew up near Cologne and, hence, grew up a big fan of 1. FC Köln.
  • Lukas became a professional footballer with the Effzeh, but has also played for Bayern München and now for Arsenal.
  • Podolski sometimes returns to his hometown to take in Effzeh matches when his schedule permits.
  • If you saw the World Cup celebration in Berlin and noted a guy with a red and white flag with a goat and a silhouette of a church on it, that was Podolski reppin’ his club, because loves his club and cannot help himself.
  • Because of his immense talent and his highly visible love for the city and club, Lukas Podolski is a regular topic of discussion.

Now, all those little points do not really do full justice to just how big a deal Prinz Poldi is when it comes to 1. FC Köln world, so even now, you’ll not quite be able to grasp the situation. I mean, when jersey number ten, the number Lukas wore while in rut un wiess, was given to another player, it was a big deal in the newspapers. This, despite the fact the man had not been with the team for two full seasons and with no realistic prospects of a return.

The only “P” in Cologne is Podolski.

The question, though . . . well, it’s not really just one question, but the phrase is meant to any discussion that centers on the possibility of Lukas returning to the Effzeh as a player.

And you will not believe how often that question gets raised, nor would you believe how heatedly it can be debated. People who normally fall in line on so many things by nature (Kölsch superiority to Altbier . . . which city is Germany’s most beautiful . . . how great it is to not have been born a fan of ‘Gladbach . . .) are of many minds when it comes to one of Köln’s most-beloved sons.

Notorious tabloid paper Express reported this week that Podolski announced he would like to return to play at 1. FC Köln before he ends his career.

“I want to again hear the FC Hymn and experience the feeling of going up the stairs while wearing the number ten.”

Express, of course, proclaimed, “He has done it again,” because Podolski is fairly transparent in his love for his club.

That said, all signals from the club leadership have been steadfastly that despite all the great Lukas has done for his club, he doesn’t really have a role to play in this team at this stage in the club’s attempts at establishing itself as a top-flight presence on a permanent basis. The message has been public and loud, though we should keep in mind that Podolski visits the club often enough that you can assume there have also been many private discussions between the parties.

Therefore, if Lukas is saying he wants to return, Lukas is stirring up trouble, right? That’s what Express wants you to know! The guy just can’t stop putting himself into the story!

Except that it’s not really Podolski who continually asks himself whether he intends to return to the club. Well, he probably does ask himself, but not for publication in the newspaper. That’s someone else doing the asking, there. Why do they keep asking a question to which they know the answer?

Because they KNOW how it gets the Effzeh fans talking.

And that’s it. It’s that simple!

If you’re remotely on the footballing internet, you almost can’t avoid Lukas Podolski. He’s a prolific presence in social media. If he wanted to announce some new thoughts about his status at Arsenal with regards to a return to his club, you could probably expect to see it on his Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter accounts. He’s not sending messages through the media.

But the flip side of that is that Lukas is a bit of an open book, it would seem. He’s an incredibly affable personality, at least as far as his public persona tells.

See to the right where he’s photo-bombing current teammate Alexis Sanchez while Sanchez is receiving some award?

Maybe you could charge him with being a bit of an attention seeker. It would be hard to deny that, but that’s a far reach from a pot-stirrer.

Yet, the story evoked plenty of wide-ranging response from Planet Effzeh. Some want him to be brought back immediately, while others call for him to simply be quiet and go away (so, no, the love for Poldi is not universal). Even though we all regularly dismiss Express as sensationalist, there was never not going to be a visceral reaction to the story.

Today, Poldi himself checked in on the matter. You can assume he’s fully aware of the talk in Köln. He’s a tuned-in sort of guy.

Highlights . . .

LOVE YOUR CITY – AND YOUR CLUB.
. . .
As a child, I always wanted to become a pro footballer – with FC. As a teenager, I 
stood with you in the stands and always hoped to someday be
able to run out there below – with FC. As a professional, ten years ago I became
a national team player – with FC. The 1.FC Köln is my club, it always
has been and always will be. To play for this club has always had special
meaning for me and will also always have special meaning.
This is no advance on my part, rather a fact about me and how I feel and where I stand with the FC, namely that the FC is my greatest love . . .  The truth is that we need to stick together with the FC in Mission Survive (class retention) – The truth lies on the pitch.
Yours, Lukas Podolski

What can be taken from this is largely what we all already knew, which is that Poldi loves the club and, if you ask him, he’ll tell you all about it . . . even if you’re a tabloid reporter with an agenda and/or a deadline to fill some column-inches.

And, his heart is true. He’s not playing too much at Arsenal and is watching his beloved club struggle to create offensive chances so far in the fight to stay in the league. It would not be a stretch to imagine Poldi believes he could help with that, even if his arrival would be contrary to the way Jörg Schmadtke is trying to build the team, and even if it would monkey with Peter Stöger’s plans for the team.

His only crime is being honest when answering questions the same way he always has . . . and being incredibly in love with 1. FC Köln.

Of course, those who have grown weary of Podolski’s continued presence in the news around the team are also guilty of about the same things. They’re voicing their true thoughts on the matter, all based on their own thoughts on what is best for the club.

So Lukas is right. We all need to stick together on this one. We all want the same thing.

And if the powers-that-be change course and decide that bringing the Prinz home is a vital part of getting it, then so be it.

But let’s not overreact to a guy yearning for his club. A man wanting to be in the employ of 1. FC Köln does not guarantee that it happens. If it did, I wouldn’t be typing this from Seattle right now. In fact, I’d probably be getting ready to watch practice at the Geißbockheim or something.

A wise man once said, “Ruhig bleiben.” Let’s do that together, shall we?

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