The Borussia Dortmund winger has overcome worse things in his life than being sent out on-loan from the Ruhr valley club he’s been with for the last decade. At the tender age of 10-years-old the Biało-czerwoni winger witnessed the murder of his mother at the hands of his own father.
The Panenka takes a brief look at the effect of those chilling events on one of the most unsung heroes of Adam Nawalka’s side at Euro 2016.
As Poland prepare to take on Portugal in the quarter final of Euro 2016 it is important to note that it has been down to the performances of Jakub Blaszczykowski that has got them there.
The wide man, also known as “Kuba,” has so far notched up two goals and an assist to his name at Euro 2016. Despite having a difficult time last season where his playing time has been limited, it is clear that from hearing about the sad events of the Polish international’s life, he does not give up very easily.
Blaszczykowski, 30, spent last term on loan at Fiorentina, where the Borussia Dortmund winger had a limited impact. The former Poland captain only played in 20 competitive matches and was restricted to completing the full 90 minutes in just six games.
His season in Serie A also put his place in the Poland squad in jeopardy, but coach Adam Nawalka made it clear that his experience was needed in France.
On Saturday, his inclusion was justified for the second time at Euro 2016. In the 39th minute Blaszczykowski put Poland ahead in the 1-1 draw with Switzerland which was settled on spot-kicks where he was one of five Polish players to convert a penalty to set up a quarterfinal against Portugal.
Kuba previously scored the winner against Ukraine and provided the assist for Arek Milik’s winner in Poland’s opening game against Northern Ireland. Of Biało-czerwoni’s three goals at Euro 2016 so far, the left winger has had a part to play in all of them.
Born in the Silesian village of Truskolasy in Southern Poland, Kuba followed in the footsteps of his uncle, Jerzy Brzeczek, who captained the Polish national team. Alongside his older brother Dawid, he began to show great promise with local side Rakow until a distressing tragedy struck.
In 1996 the youngster witnessed the murder of his mother at the hands of his own father. The event had the potential to ruin a young boy’s life but it is a testament to the resilience of the Poland international to reach such heights in his football career after such a distressing moment while so young.
“I’ll never understand why this happened,” he told The London Evening Standard in 2012. “I always find myself asking why. I have to live with this till the end of my life.”
“Earlier in my life, it was something that I never wanted to mention,” he said. “I tried to forget it but I couldn’t. But now I’m mature enough to speak about it,” he added.
Blaszczykowski, a devout Catholic who reads the Bible every day, is sure his mother is in heaven overseeing everything he does. “My mother is looking after me,” he revealed in the same interview. “I have had some difficulties in my life but I have overcome all of them and I feel it is because she is somewhere and helps me.”
In an interview in 2015 to promote the his autobiography, “Kuba,” the Poland international revisited the darkest and saddest day of his life. In the book, he reveals that the telling of that chapter of his life was unavoidable as it’s “part of who he is.”
“In the book, I reveal everything that’s happened to me, including when at the age of 10, I witnessed the murder of my mother by my father,” he told German newspaper Die Welt.
“It’s not easy, but it’s an episode I haven’t forgotten and will never forget; that day, my life was changed forever. But I think it also gave me lots of strength. I’ve had to deal with so many adversities in my life, that others would never have been able to.”
Adding: “I never let anything get the better of me; I always know I’ve already lived through worse.”
His father was promptly placed in prison and he and his brother were placed into the care of their grandmother. According to reports, it was not long after the murder that ‘Kuba’ was back doing what he does best, playing football.
Aged 16 he joined the Gornik Zabre youth team before taking the step up to KS Czestochowa in the fourth tier of Polish football a year later. It was from here that his uncle Jerzy Brzeczek helped him gain a trail with Wisla Krakow. After impressing, he never looked back.
Blaszczykowski quickly broke into Wisla’s first team and made his debut in March 2005 before winning the Polish Ekstraklasa title two months later. After being named Canal+’s Best Midfielder in the Polish top flight as well as earning a place in the Ekstraklasa Best XI in the 2006-07 season, he sealed a move to the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund in February 2007 for an undisclosed fee.
After an injury plagued first few seasons with Die Schwarzgelben, Blaszczykowski underlined his ability by becoming integral in Jurgen Klopp’s team that won the Bundesliga in 2010/2011 and then went on to seal a league and cup double the year after.
In the summer of 2015, the winger was loaned to Fiorentina last season for a fee of $1 million with an option to buy for a further $6 million. It is not yet known if the Italian club will opt to make the move permanent.
Poland play Portugal in the quarter-final of Euro 2016 on June 30 at 3:00PM ET. The winner of this tie will set up a semi-final with Wales or Belgium.
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