Cionek gets Polish passport

Brazilian Thiago Cionek has become a citizen of his ancestral homeland Poland but is playing down his chances of joining the Euro 2012 host's wave of foreign-born names.

"In times gone by, my ancestors moved from Poland to Brazil. I was the first to return to the land of my forebears. Now I'm a citizen of this country and that makes me really, really happy," Cionek said in a statement released on Monday by his Polish club Jagiellonia Bialystok.

Jagiellonia boss Czeslaw Michniewicz hailed the news about his 25-year-old central defender.

"This is going to open up big possibilities for him, and I'm not just talking about Jagiellonia, but also the national side," Michniewicz said.

Cionek, however, was more sanguine about a potential Poland call-up.

"To play in the national team, a passport isn't the be all and end all. You have to play well to get what you deserve," he said.

Cionek joined Jagiellonia in 2008 from Brazil's third division and has become a stalwart at the top-flight side, though he has made headlines due to his hard-man reputation and patchy disciplinary record.

Cionek's Polish great-grandparents emigrated to Brazil in the early 20th century, making it easier for him to obtain citizenship.

With Poland desperate to shine in the 2012 European championship - which it will co-host with Ukraine - its football association has scouted for new faces in the world's huge Polish diaspora.

It acted after criticism for losing out on the likes of Polish-born Lukas Podolski, who opted to play for Germany where he grew up.

The newest additions, this year, were Damien Perquis, a Frenchman with Polish roots, and Eugen Polanski, born in Poland and raised in Germany.

Source AFP