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Prince Poldi: Soccer’s Next Big Thing

Posted June. 01, 2006 03:00,   


The 2006 FIFA World Cup host Germany is engulfed in a “Prinz Poldi” (Prince Poldi) stardom nowadays. Prince Poldi is a pet name for Germany’s next-generation striker Lucas Podolski (21, FC Cologne). He is not only a brilliant soccer player but also handsome and well-mannered. The popularity of the youngest player in the German World Cup squad cannot be compared. Adidas picked him to be the model for its new soccer shoes. Wherever he goes, a crowd of teenage school girls follow.

The most important reason for his stardom is obviously his talent. Deft at using his left foot, Podolski has been dubbed the best striker Germany has produced since Jürgen Klinsmann and is a new sensation along the lines of Johan Cruijff and Ryan Giggs. Accurate goal kicking, flexible dribbling, quickness, and brilliant middle-distance shooting; these are the qualities that make up the goal-scoring machine that is Podolski.

Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath compared him to England’s young star Wayne Rooney: “Rooney is powerful and rough, but Podolski is graceful. Despite his age, he has the qualities of a veteran.”

At the age of 18, Podolski appeared like a comet in 2003 Bundesliga. Marcel Koller, the FC Cologne coach, picked him to be his central attacker, much to his credit. Podolski scored 10 goals in 19 games in the 2003-2004 season. In the 2004-2005 season, playing for now-demoted Cologne, Podolski scored 24 goals in 30 matches, becoming the highest scorer of the lower league. After Cologne returned to the prime league in the 2005-2006 season, Poldi scored 12 goals in 32 matches. As a national squad member, Podolski first appeared in the Hungary match held on June 7, 2004. Having attended the Euro 2004 (2004 European Football Championship) and FIFA Confederations Cup, Podolski rose as Germany’s main striker. For this year alone, Podolski has 12 goals in 24 matches, including the two goals he recently scored against Luxemburg in a friendly match held on May 28. He was however unable to score any goal in the recent practice match with Japan which ended in 2-2 draw.

Podolski, despite his national hero status, is originally from Gliwice, Poland. His dad, Valdermar Podolski, used to be a soccer player in the Polish league. Podolskis moved to Germany when Lukas was three, and they became German citizens. It has been rumored that Poland tried to recruit Podolski to its World Cup squad but gave up the idea when it found out that Podolski did not have Polish citizenship. His life, however, remains Polish. He speaks Polish at home and enjoys Polish food that his girlfriend cooks.

He is also into Polish music. A hip-hop and R&B fan, Podolski likes listening to music by Polish bands. It is a popular expectation that he will be flying higher after the World Cup. Although the contract holds him to Cologne until 2007, Bayern Munich, Hamburg SV, Verder Bremen, and Real Madrid of Spanish Primera have shown interest in the young star. But his favorite club is none other than FC Barcelona.