Poland bowed out of the Euros in triumphant spirit on Thursday with a fantastic match that saw Italy beat Germany 2-1 to reach the final.
I think it’s fair to say that everyone expected the Germans to win, but just like this tournament, Poland has thrown up its fair share of pleasant surprises both on and off the pitch.
And to the Poles who ask me how their country is being perceived by outsiders, I always tell them that they should be proud.
That’s because many of the initial fears over this tournament being held in a new territory were never realised.
Stadiums were finished and gleaming. Supporters who came to the host-cities of Warsaw, Gdansk, Poznan and Wroclaw said the atmosphere was excellent. And, most importantly, those who had been shown as racists in a damaging documentary aired before the tournament, kept away with their mouths shut.
Unfortunately the one thing that Poles are most afraid of being remembered for, are the running battles between a small group of so-called Polish football fans and visiting Russian supporters. The images of families being caught in the middle of it all is hard to erase. And, in my view, the situation could have been avoided if the Russian’s request to march through Warsaw was turned down.
But to linger on the actions of a small group of trouble makers would be wrong. Poles should be congratulated for organising the tournament in such a superb and uniquely Polish way. Their success will bring more tourists, more business and more respect not just from fellow European countries, but also across the world. And, who knows, maybe even more important sports events in the future.