Poland – Host of the Euro 2012

For Euro 2012 the host countries were Poland and Ukraine and they pulled off a decent tournament!

Poland has a long soccer history and has fielded some excellent teams in the past. The nation’s fans are hoping this trend continues in 2012. The country itself has a population of about 38 million people and the local currency used is the Złoty, not the euro.

It’s a landlocked nation in the heart of Europe as it’s surrounded by the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Russia, Belarus, and Lithuania. It’s been an independent country since 1918, but was under Soviet influence after the Second World War. The country regained its full independence again in 1989 and joined the European Union back in 2004.

Poland has been the home to some world-famous people over the years. These include Pope John Paul II, who served as Pope from 1978 to 2005, Nicolaus Copernicus a famous astronomer, and Fryderyk Chopin, who was well known as one of the world’s best composers. Poland is proud of its sporting history and has produced many world-class athletes in a variety of sports such as ski jumping, Formula 1, speedway, Olympic walking, ice hockey, basketball, and sprinting.

However, soccer is by far the most popular sport in the land and the domestic league is operated by the Polish Football Association (PZPN, which was launched during 1919, just a year after the country gained its independence. Poland then joined FIFA just four years later in 1923 and also became one of the inaugural members of UEFA.

Poland played its first international game on Dec. 18th 1921 and lost a close 1-0 decision to Hungary. The team improved over the years and finished in third place at the 1974 and 1982 World Cups. The team also qualified for the tournament in 1938, 1978, 1986, 2002 and 2006. However, they didn’t play in the European Championships until 2008. The nation also won the gold medal in soccer at the 1972 Olympics and added silver medals in 1976 and again in 1992. Poland also won the European Under-16 Championship in 1993and the U18 Championship in 2001.

There have been some excellent soccer players in the country over the years, with some of the best of them being Kazimierz Deyna, Władysław Żmuda, Jan Tomaszewski, Wlodzimierz Lubanski and perhaps the most famous of all, Zbigniew Boniek. Grzegorz Lato became the first Pole to earn 100 caps for the senior team and he scored 45 times for his country. He also won the Golden Boot at the World Cup in 1974.

The top division in Poland is known as the Ekstraklasa, which was born during 1927. Ruch Chorzow and Gornik Zabrze have each won the league 14 times. However, the strongest clubs since 1989 have been Legia Warszawa and Wisła Krakow. Gornik played in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final 1969/70, but lost Manchester City of England 2-1.

The popular cities of Warsaw (National Stadium), Poznan (Municipal Stadium), Gdansk (PGE Arena), and Wrocław (Municipal Stadium) will host the Euro 2012 games that are going to be played in Poland. All of them are tourist friendly with plenty of excellent restaurants and hotels to choose from for all types of budgets. The transportation system was top notch and each city has a rich history with plenty of interesting attractions to visit.

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