Lukas Podolski, born as Lukasz Podolski on 4 June 1985) is a Polish-born naturalized German footballer who plays as a striker for Koln and is a member of the German national football team. He joined 1. FC Koln in 1995 where he broke into the first team in 2003 and made 81 appearances for the club before moving to Bayern Munich. After three years in Munich with mixed success, Podolski returned to Koln. Although he was eligible to play for Germany and Poland, Podolski chose to play for Germany. He was first capped in 2004 and has been part of the squad in all major tournaments since then.
Podolski was born to Krystyna Podolska, a former member of the Polish national handball team and Waldemar Podolski, former Polish football professional and the 1980 champion of Poland with Szombierki Bytom, in the Silesian industrial town of Gliwice (near Katowice), Poland. His paternal family belongs to the German minority in Upper Silesia. In 1987, when Lukasz Podolski was two years old, his family emigrated from Poland to West Germany and was given Aussiedler status, but Podolski said in 2008 that he also has Polish blood. Podolski grew up in Bergheim, North Rhine-Westphalia, and later in Pulheim, both near Cologne. He still has Polish citizenship, but he travels with a German passport.
In late 2003, after several impressive performances in his first few Bundesliga games, Polish media suggested then-Polish national team coach Paweł Janas to check Podolski out, as he was still eligible to play for Poland. Janas ignored the request stating in one of the press interviews that “as for today we have much better strikers in Poland and I don’t see a reason to call up a player just because he played one or two good matches in the Bundesliga. He’s not even a regular starter at his club.” By that time Podolski was still interested in representing Poland, but as the season progressed more and more German media started to suggest to call up the striker to their national team. When his full potential was finally unveiled, he had already been persuaded to represent Germany. At the end of the season Koln were relegated, but Podolski impressed so much, that he celebrated his debut for Rudi Voller’s Germany on 6 June 2004 in Kaiserslautern against Hungary with a late substitute appearance. He had become the first second-division player since 1975 to break into the national team.
Podolski was selected in the Germany squad for the 2006 World Cup, where he partnered Miroslav Klose in attack. He scored his first ever World Cup goal in Germany’s third group match against Ecuador, and both goals in the 2–0 win over Sweden in the round of 16. By this, he became the first player since 1962 to score two goals in the first 12 minutes of a World Cup match and only the third man ever to accomplish the feat. Germany went to the semi-finals and lost to Italy 2–0 in extra time. They eventually won the third place match against Portugal. His three goals in the tournament tied him for second in the Golden Boot competition, which was won by his teammate Miroslav Klose with five goals. Podolski was tied with Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Fernando Torres, David Villa, Maxi Rodriguez, Hernan Crespo, and FIFA World Cup Player Of The Tournament (winner of the Golden Ball) Zinedine Zidane. Podolski was named the World Cup’s Best Young Player before Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
World Cup 2010
On 6 September 2008, Podolski scored the opening two goals in Germany’s first 2010 World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein in Vaduz; a match that ended in a 6-0 victory for the Germans. He scored the opener in the 2-1 home win over Russia on 11 October, when he turned Vasily Berezutsky on the edge of the penalty area, before unleashing a powerful shot past Russia’s goalkeeper Akinfeev. As of 10 June 2009, he is currently the joint-top scorer in Group 4 with 4 goals. During one of the qualifying matches, he was involved in a bust-up with team captain Michael Ballack. He scored the first goal in Germany’s opening game against Australia. In which Podolski scored the first goal in the 8th minute, soon to be followed by 3 other goals leaving Germany with a winning score of 4-0.