For the first time since the cold war ended, eastern Europe is about to host a major football tournament.
I arrived in Warsaw late yesterday and the place is abuzz with EURO 2012 excitement – everywhere you look there’s posters spruiking EURO-related events and products.
There’s little that could wipe the smile off the locals' faces. Many Polish descendants from places like the United States have come to take part in the country’s biggest party since the end of communism.
As one Warsaw journalist told me people here are desperate to take advantage of the opportunity because it may never come again.
That’s not to say that everyone is excited about hosting the tournament. Along the bridge that links the city with the impressive new National Stadium there are swear words sprayed over EURO 2012 logos, while on the steps of the bank of the Vistula River “bread not games” is painted in big letters.
Aside from these occasional signs of discontent, Warsaw is awash with Polish flags, scarves and shirts as the countdown approaches zero.
Much of the advertising convincing fans to come to Poland centres on famous Polish hospitality. I rarely take notice of such gimmicks but this occasion it is spot on.
So far the Poles have been some of the friendliest most welcoming people I’ve encountered in Europe.
Everyone has been more than happy to help with any request we have and they’ve even got out of their way to help with my pronunciation of Wojciech Szczęsny. I’m still not sure I’ve got it right but the locals seem happy enough with my efforts.
Among the beautifully restored, cobble stone streets of the old town there is no evidence of the racism and violence highlighted by BBC’s Panorama. While most here recognise it’s an issue, they believe that the troubles are confined to league football and that foreign visitors should have no concern.
Around Warsaw’s carnival-like city centre I’d have to agree with them.
On the pitch I’ve previously written about Poland and there is real anticipation in the capital that this team will achieve its goal of the quarter-finals.
The reason for most fans’ optimism is their talented foursome Wojciech Szczęsny, Łukasz Piszczek, Jakub Błaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski. Somewhat surprisingly few seem fond of gifted playmaker Ludovic Obraniak, possibly because he was born in France.
But playing at home with so many star names has also brought a type of pressure no Polish team has ever experienced.
The Dortmund trio and Szczęsny are well accustomed to such an intense atmosphere, it’s how the others react that could decide Poland’s fate.
While the match against Greece is being highly anticipated, many in Poland will also have one eye on the team’s second game against Russia.
Nearly 50 years of dominance by the Soviet Union left Poles feeling a sense of antagonism towards Russia. A few here even believe that the Russians were behind the plane crash that killed the Polish President in 2010.
Everyday there’s a protest against Russia outside Warsaw’s Presidential palace – only a stone’s throw from the hotel where the Russian team is staying.
Adding to the tension is the date of the game - 12 June. Russia’s national day.
There were some concerns about hostilities in the streets between the two sets of supporters, but after the reception Russia received on arrival that seems unlikely.
With both teams playing their best football in years and perhaps fighting it out for top spot in group A, it should be a spectacle to rival that of Netherlands v Germany and France v England.
First Poland needs to make sure it doesn’t suffer Portugal’s fate and fall to Greece on the nation’s proudest football day.
Whatever happens on the pitch one thing seems certain in Warsaw, the co-host is determined to put on a party the country will never forget.
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