Ahead of Poland v Switzerland, bwfc.co.uk profile a former Wanderer who turned out for the Poles in their first ever appearance at the European Championships in 2008
After navigating their way through the group-stages, Poland are already enjoying their greatest ever showing at the European Championships. Ahead of their Euro 2016 round-of-16 clash with Switzerland, bwfc.co.uk profile a former Wanderer who featured in their first ever appearance at the Euros back in 2008.
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47 CAPS 20 GOALS
European Championships: 1 (EURO 2008)
Best Stage Reached: GROUP STAGES
Tournament Appearances: 3
Tournament Goals: 0
Son of former Poland international Wlodzimierz, Ebi Smolarek was handed his international debut in February 2002 after coming through the ranks at his father’s former club, Feyenoord.
Having to wait until March 2004 for his second cap, and March 2005 for his first competitive appearance for Poland, he scored his first international goal in a 2006 World Cup qualifier against Austria in September 2005 – just a month after joining Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund.
Included in Poland’s squad for the 2006 World Cup, he started all three group games against Ecuador, hosts Germany and Costa Rica as the Poles failed to progress past the group-stages.
Enjoying fine form in Euro 2008 qualification, Smolarek finished as the third-highest scorer with nine goals, behind David Healey and Eduardo, as Poland qualified for their first ever European Championships.
Scoring his first qualification goal with a winner away against Kazakhstan, the forward followed it up with a brace as Poland beat Portugal 2-1, before netting a further strike against Azerbaijan.
Having signed for then La Liga side Racing Santander in 2007, he scored his first ever international hat-trick at home to Kazakhstan, before netting another brace in a 2-0 home victory over Belgium as Poland finished top of their qualifying group to qualify alongside runners-up Portugal.
Drawn in Group B alongside eventual runners-up Germany, Croatia and co-hosts Austria, the Poles were up against it to qualify past the Euro 2008 group-stages.
Facing off against rivals Germany in their first ever European Championships finals match, Smolarek started upfront as Poland suffered a 2-0 defeat after Lukas Podolski scored twice against his nation of birth.
Upfront again in their second match against Austria, Roger Guerreiro fired Poland ahead on the half-hour mark, only for the Poles to be pegged back by an 93rd minute penalty from Ivica Vastic – ensuring they needed both final group matches to go their way to stand any chance of progressing.
Benched for Poland’s final group game against Croatia, Smolarek was introduced soon after the Poles fell behind to a goal from future Wanderer Ivan Klasnic.
However, he was unable to help them find an equaliser as they finished bottom of the group to suffer an early exit.
Signing for Bolton Wanderers on loan after the finals, Smolarek endured a disappointing stint at the Reebok Stadium.
Making just 13 appearances, and one Premier League start, his only goal came in an FA Cup defeat away at Sunderland, with the Whites deciding against making the move permanent and he was released by Santander following his return to Spain.
Going on to net six goals in 2010 World Cup qualifying as the Poles failed to qualify - with five of those strikes came in Poland’s two victories over San Marino including a four-goal haul in a 10-0 home victory – the forward made his final international appearance as a 90th minute substitute against Ivory Coast in November 2010.
Later enjoying stints in Greece, Poland, Qatar and Holland, Smolarek finished his career back in his homeland with Jagiellonia Bialstok in 2013.