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Ex-Poland forward Zbigniew Boniek tells UEFA.com about his passion for the UEFA European Championship, the "caviar of football", and how fans must do their duty and apply for tickets.
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Having contested three FIFA World Cups and tasted continental success with Juventus, former Poland forward Zbigniew Boniek could be forgiven a sense of having been there, done that as he looks ahead to UEFA EURO 2012 – even if he never did grace a UEFA European Championship. Yet with ticket sales running throughout March he tells UEFA.com about his growing anticipation for what he considers the "caviar of football". It is the "duty", he says, of football fans across the continent to apply for tickets and join him at the stadiums.
UEFA.com: Why should people apply for EURO tickets?
Zbigniew Boniek: I love the EURO, a top-class competition. It is up there with the World Cup, only without Brazil and Argentina. There are no problems with time differences or acclimatisation and supporters can watch games in the evening. As I said,
this is an absolutely amazing competition and anyone who loves football should not miss the chance to watch the best players from the stands. It is almost a duty of football fans to apply for tickets.
UEFA.com: Do you think there will be great interest in Poland?
Boniek: EURO 2012 is one of the most important events in Polish history as a whole – not just sport. It's a fantastic opportunity for people to be part of a historic milestone, to be involved in a fantastic event. Polish people love football. They follow the German, English, Italian and Spanish leagues on television – in 2012 many of those players will be here with their national teams. How could you miss the opportunity to watch them live?
UEFA.com: And tickets are available only through UEFA.com …
Boniek: Yes. You register, apply and wait. If you are lucky, then you will see this 'caviar of football' – a EURO match. I would like to remind all fans, not just Polish ones, that they can only apply for tickets until the end of March. This is best opportunity to get them. So please, don't miss the deadline.
UEFA.com: As a player you never participated in a UEFA European Championship final tournament ...
Boniek: That's right. Poland often got to World Cup finals, but we were never able to qualify for EUROs. We finally managed it in 2008 so my participation has mainly been as a television commentator and supporter.
UEFA.com: Which European Championship moments stand out for you?
Boniek: I liked the 1984 finals where my big mate, Michel Platini, starred. I will never forget Michel's goal against Spain in the final, when he scored direct from a free-kick – a really important goal. We were team-mates at Juventus so I had my fingers firmly crossed for him. It helped! Then there was
Marco van Basten's goal in the 1988 final against the Soviet Union – absolutely amazing. That is what EUROs are all about. I watch EUROs because I want to see world-class play and I can count on finding it.
UEFA.com: Poland is building new stadiums and a new team as well. Which is more difficult?
Boniek: Both! I'm happy we'll have new stadiums, though we are not there yet. As for the national team, I honestly don't know whether we are strong or not, it's too early to say. I can make a prediction in March but it will be March 2012. I will have a better idea about the squad and players then, so could tell you more. Let's wait.
UEFA.com: How are you finding your role as UEFA EURO 2012 ambassador?
Boniek: I'm proud UEFA offered it to me. It is recognition for me as a player and as a person. It's a big honour and I'm enjoying fulfilling my duties. I'm Polish and EURO will be co-hosted by my country. When I said you cannot miss it, I also refer to myself. So again, I tell the fans – apply for tickets and see you at the stadium.