'My mom's watching me from skies'

Tearful memories

Behind the glowing headlines about the scorer of the most brilliant goal so far at Euro 2012 lies the dark story of an 11-year-old boy who witnessed his father stabbing his mother to death.

Poland midfielder and captain Jakub Blaszczykowski has lived with the horror for more than 16 years.

"This was something I wanted to forget about. But there are things that you can't escape from," the player known as Kuba said on Friday.

Born in a small village in southern Poland, Kuba almost gave up football after the tragedy but thanks to the encouragement of his uncle, former Poland captain Jerzy Brzeczek, he resumed training three months later. "I lost my reason for living. But I returned to the right path because of my uncle and my grandmother," Blaszczykowski said.

Blaszczykowski has often referred to the role of his grandmother, Felicja, who raised him after his father was imprisoned and he dedicates every goal he scores to his mother's memory. That was evident when he fell to his knees and raised his eyes and hands to the sky after smashing in a superb equalising goal for the co-hosts in their politically-charged Group A match against Russia on Tuesday.

It was a moment that the Polish skipper believed has worked tremendously to erase the memories of the dark past, from which he often struggled to move away.

"I am perfectly certain that my mother is watching over me up there," he said. Kuba's father Zygmunt was released from prison a couple of years ago but died shortly before Euro 2012. The Borussia Dortmund player, along with his older brother Dawid, attended the funeral even though they did not keep in touch with him after the tragedy.

Blaszczykowski is an unusual footballer in many ways, dipping in and out of the celebrity lifestyle. The handsome 27-year-old was the recent face of a Hugo Boss advertising campaign in Poland and at the same time is involved in Polish popular Catholic movement "I am not ashamed of Jesus."

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