Podolski admits to split loyalties

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/e/euro_podolski.jpg' class='caption'> Poland-born German midfielder Lukas Podolski said he didn't celebrate his goal as a mark of respect towards his family living in his country of birth.

Updated: June 15, 2008 17:57 IST
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Polish-born forward Lukas Podolski admitted he was suffering from divided loyalties after his goals sealed a 2-0 win which sank Poland and launched the Germans' Euro 2008 campaign.

Having turned 23 last Wednesday, Podolski combined with Germany's other Polish-born forward Miroslav Klose for his first goal on 20 minutes and followed up with an unstoppable volley on 72 minutes last night.

"We did the essential in winning our opener, but this victory does not over enthuse me as I am originally from Poland. All my family is over there," he said.

"I have two hearts - a German one and a Polish one!"

"I had some family in the stands and they were driving back home after the game, so I ran to them at the end of the game.

"I didn't really celebrate after the first goal as a mark of respect, I have a big family in Poland and was born there, I wanted to show some respect."

Podolski, normally a striker, had been handed an attacking midfielder role by Germany coach Joachim Loew and the move paid off in spectacular style.

The Bayern Munich forward gave Germany an extra attacking option supporting front men Miroslav Klose, the top scorer at the last World Cup, who was partnering VfB Stuttgart hot-shot Mario Gomez up front.

The trio combined to give Germany a break through on 20 minutes when Gomez flicked the ball over the defence for Klose to draw the goalkeeper before Podolski tapped the ball past Poland's Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

But Podolski said Germany must improve if they are to beat Group B rivals Croatia here on Thursday after they began their Euro 2008 campaign with a 1-0 win over co-hosts Austria on Sunday.

"We reached our goal and we worked very hard, we had to go the distance, we will have to improve for our next game against the Croatian team if we want to be victorious," added Podolski.

After the Germans picked up their first win at a European Championships for 12 years, Germany coach Loew was keen to praise his entire side.

"The whole team, not just Lukas Podolski, played well, we know Lukas is a very dangerous attacker for any goalkeeper, but Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose helped him immensely," said Loew.

"I think from a tactical point of view, our defence worked very well, we didn't make many defensive mistakes which was pleasing.

"We desperately wanted to start with a victory and we can be happy with the result."

Germany captain Michael Ballack added the Germans had been their traditional efficient selves in sealing the points, but warned against complacency ahead of their game against Croatia.

"I think we played well. It's always difficult - you never know where you are before the first game of a tournament. I think we deserved victory, but we will have to raise our game against Croatia."

The Poles were making their European Championship debut, but have still to beat Germany in 16 meetings between the sides since 1933 with the Germans now claiming 12 wins with four draws between the neighbours.

"You can imagine how disappointed we are, but our opponents played at the highest level," said Poland coach Leo Beenhakker.

"The first goal was well taken, I was not impressed with the second goal, we tried to put some more pressure on and played a bit more open, which led to the consequence of the second goal.

"After the second goal it was all over. We matched them for 70 minutes, but the last 20 was best forgotten.

"We will have to get over the disappointment tonight and tomorrow we will begin again."

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