It was Monday, October 18. She got to training faster than usual. She did additional exercises in the gym, returned to the locker room and … then she found out about the first ever call-up to the Polish national team.
– I wrote to my parents and he viraled the message. I got dozens of congratulations. One of the first ones came from Kuba and Jurek – he says. Błaszczykowski and Brzczek are her uncles, but also mentors. The former supported her during the injury, the latter advised on the choice of the club. Together, every Christmas Eve, before the first Christmas, they play an indoor tournament. It is a family tradition – just like the presence in the national team.
Nicola Brzęczek. From those Buzzers. But don’t tell anyone
Nicola was doomed to play football: she never played with dolls, she had more friends in the yard than friends, and she rarely watched anything other than matches on TV. He remembers going to the district circle in Truskolasy with his dad and the contact with a big ball when Kuba was coming home. Before the family events, she couldn’t find a place for herself from the morning, because she knew that she would meet famous footballers in the evening. One day she saw them on TV, the next at the table. It was her Disneyland.
– I was mobile, I did not leave my parents alone, so they had to figure out where to use this energy. The ball was a natural choice because I always kicked it. But the girls’ team wasn’t around so I played with the boys. Only. It was difficult, because even then it seemed strange that the girl was kicking the ball and not bouncing it. Some of the boys it bothered a bit, but with each goal scored or successful dribble they made me feel more and more like theirs. In PE I also had to rewrite myself for a group of boys, because I would never play football with girls in my life. Volleyball, basketball, gymnastics. It was sports for girls. Fortunately, today it has changed and the girls have their own teams. Even here in Truskolasy there is a band for żaczek – says Nicola.
They often asked her if she was one of those Brzęczki. She confirmed – her grandfather, Krzysztof Brzęczek is Jerzy’s older brother – but she asked not to spread it. These questions irritated and embarrassed me. Today I don’t understand it completely. Jurek and Kuba are great figures and I am very proud of them, but then I probably didn’t want anyone to see me through their prism. Without it, I felt more at ease. However, I owe both of them a lot. Sometimes they played with me, but they had the greatest impact not by kicking the ball but by talking to me. They have enormous experience, so they were able to advise me well and set me up properly, although friction did happen sometimes. A lot of people say that I have a similar character to them, so I am also very stubborn. But in the end I always made allowances for how much they survived in football and how many I experienced. It helped to understand who might be right – smiles Nicola.
There is no other family that would have a captain, coach and a representative of Poland. First Jerzy Brzczek joined the staff of the small Truskolas, then his nephew – Jakub Błaszczykowski, and a month ago Nicola Brzęczek was appointed. And it’s hard to talk about a coincidence.
– With us, one dragged the other behind him and conveyed similar values: that work is more important than talent, that determination is the key, and that you cannot give up. I have the impression that for me Kuba was someone like Jurek for him. Such a guide – wonders Nicola.
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However, things did not always work out between them: – As a child, I had a slight problem with Kuba. I was staring at him like at a picture, I watched his every match, I tried to play like him, I treated him as an absolute idol, and on the other hand, I knew that he was just my uncle and I felt that I should treat him simply in the world. Besides, he could not have imagined otherwise. Of course, it passed with age, and today we are supportive of each other. Kuba helped me a lot when I was recovering from my injury. Now he is struggling with her, so I am trying to repay him to some extent – says Nicola Brzęczek.
The road to the staff – short and long at the same time
She dreamed about the Polish national team in 2012. The National Stadium rumbled, waiting for the opening of Euro, and she was standing in the tunnel with the players of Poland and Greece. She was supposed to take Kuba out, but at the last minute they assigned her to Sokratis Papastatopoulos. To this day, she remembers this white and red mosaic and the ubiquitous excitement – including her own. It was then that she thought she would like to play a match someday under similar circumstances. She recreated the view of the National in all its glory for years as a stimulus to work.
The road to the Polish national team was short and long for her at the same time. Short, because Nicola is only 19 years old. Long, because she had torn the cruciate ligaments in her knee twice, which took her almost two years to play. This is one of the worst injuries for footballers. From a crash in the knee to the return to the pitch, it usually takes several months filled with tiring and arduous workouts. And when a moment after returning, the ligament cracks again, doubts and questions arise: how many times will it happen, does it even make sense to come back, what went wrong, what to do differently this time. And whether you have enough strength.
– It was hard. I was 17 years old, early in my career, I was planning things, and one moment changed everything. Today I know it was a lesson in humility, but then I had many moments of doubt. Cuba’s support was invaluable. I lived with him during treatment, so we talked a lot. He has been through a lot himself, he had several injuries. His advice hit the nail on the head. He even said such a simple sentence that I still have in mind today that a strong character is built up in difficult moments – recalls Nicola.
– The two rehabilitation sessions and the return to the pitch were very different. The same injury, but completely different experiences. Everything passed pretty quickly the first time. I did not think at all what it would be like after returning to the pitch. I just stepped on it and started playing. I had no trauma or fear.
– The second was worse – recalls Brzęczek. – I caught her in winter. The days were short and I had the feeling that everyone was the same. I was leaving the house – it was dark. I was coming back – it’s dark. I thought more about what had happened to me. It was a psychological burden. But I know that the second injury was a signal that during the first one I didn’t learn everything I should have. For example, when I came back, I felt too strong. I was overconfident. The second injury brought me down to earth, taught me patience.
– Today I can see that these injuries gave me more than they took. First of all, I am a better person, but also a better soccer player, because I am much more aware – she describes her transformation as a teenager in a mature way.
“It’s family with us”
– I have this in my head: the worst has already happened to me. Shortly after the second surgery, I told my mother that even if it happened 30 times, I would come back 30 times. I’m not afraid. During the first training sessions, this fear was there. But that’s normal. This was missing after the first injury. Everything has been fine for three months now, I’m already adapted. It also helped that I collaborated with a psychologist throughout the entire period of treating the injury. Together with my parents and Kuba, he played a very important role – emphasizes the GKS Katowice forward.
The appointment to the Polish senior national team for the October training camp came unexpectedly. Nicola Brzęczek heard about the injuries of Patrycja Balcerzak and Klaudia Jedlińska, but she did not see this as an opportunity for herself. She had just come back from her second injury and was starting to regain the match rhythm. – The national team has always been my greatest dream. But I don’t see this calling as a reward for anything. Rather a great learning opportunity. The level made a big impression on me. I know what I have to strive for and what else to improve – says Nicola Brzęczek.
The picture from Narodowy, captured almost ten years ago, still shines on her. He also dreams of an international career. He slowly stabilizes his form and scores more goals. Its GKS Katowice ranks fourth in the top league. She scored three goals. More calls will come. – I am stubborn. I believe hard work pays off. Anyway, it’s family with us.