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Deadpan Poland coach Beenhakker shows humorous side, but has serious message

Deadpan Poland coach Beenhakker shows humorous side, but has serious message

If Poland goes home early from the European Championship and coach Leo Beenhakker is looking for a career outside of football, he might consider being a standup comedian.
The Dutchman has a delivery Jack Benny would have been proud of.
Speaking ahead of a highly charged meeting against Germany in southern Austria, the 65-year-old coach was asked if Poland had prepared differently for this game bearing in mind it is against one of its traditional foes.
"We have our usual preparation like always, like with the qualification matches," he replied, answering all questions in English. "It's not like we now do different things because we are in Euro now and we'll go walk around the park buck-naked or something.
"No, we don't do that. We have our own program, with breakfast, with a team meeting, with lunch and then some rest. Then another team meeting about the restarts, what we always do very shortly before the match, and then we go tra-la-la to the stadium. Then we're going to play tra-la-la, and if we are after the game still tra-la-la, I don't know."
Despite laughter from those listening at the Woerthersee stadium, Beenhakker sat stone-faced. It could be just his nature, but he also has a very serious side and went out of his way to explain it.
Beenhakker was furious at photos published in Poland ahead of the game, which were made to appear that he was holding the decapitated heads of Germany coach Joachim Loew and captain Michael Ballack in each hand.
To many fans, Germany vs. Poland has become more than just a soccer game because of the historic significance of their meeting, such as Germany's invasion of its neighbor at the start of World War II. Previous meetings have led to violent clashes between rival fans and municipal officials in Klagenfurt are wary of trouble on Sunday when up to 25,000 German and 20,000 Polish supporters arrive in the small city, most of them without tickets.
"Everybody is living with this football match in a different way. We have talked already several times, and we have had some very, very bad examples about this way of thinking," Beenhakker said in reference to the photos. "Let's focus on the match, please, once again. I know the impact of football on every national society. I know the consequence of winning or losing a match in mental way, in social way, in even commercial way. But once again, please, let's bring it back to a game."
As a Dutchman, Beenhakker could also have issues with the Germans. Their two countries have also had acrimonious meetings insofar as the rival fans are concerned.
"It's still a game," he said. "The consequences of winning and losing are clear, I know that. And the consequences of the impact in the whole nation, yes, I know it. Holland is totally orange; Poland is totally red and white; Germany is totally white and black.
"We know that. I think if you are involved in the team, as staff or player, the only thing you have to do for the professional part of you job is to play as good as possible in relation with the team, to fight as good as possible for a good result. That's exactly what it's all about and please separate it from the rest."
On the field, there are issues, too.
Poland has never beaten Germany, losing 11 times and drawing their other four meetings, while the Germans haven't won a European Championship match since they beat the Czech Republic in the 1996 final at Wembley. Beenhakker was happy to point that out. As he says, he's done his homework.
"Well, if you go back through history, I can help you," he said. "We know that in '96 Germany was champion in England. And since '96, they haven't won any match at all in the Euro tournament. You're talking about history, and I did my homework.
"So in 2000 in Holland they had two defeats and a draw and they were out in the first stage. And in Portugal in 2004, it was the same situation with Germany. I don't know if it has anything in relation with tomorrow, but just like you, I like history."


Updated : 2021-10-22 12:53 GMT+08:00