'Gladiator' Crowe hails Poland's Blaszczykowski

While the 30-year-old midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski has had a stellar career with German giants Borussia Dortmund on the pitch, his life off it has been anything but easy.

Actor Russell Crowe arrives at the UK Premiere of Nice Guys at a cinema in central London.   -  REUTERS

Poland's gladatorial displays at Euro 2016 have attracted a new fan with star actor Russell Crowe jumping on the bandwagon as Jakub "Kuba" Blaszczykowski booked its place in the knockout stages for the first time.

"Kuba !! Well done Poland. More hard work to come. Do boju Polska !!," the Oscar-winner reacted on Twitter, urging "Poland, go to battle!!" in a message that has attracted thousands of retweets and likes.

While the 30-year-old midfielder Blaszczykowski has had a stellar career with German giants Borussia Dortmund on the pitch, his life off it has been anything but easy. Born in the southern city of Czestochowa - more known for its Black Madonna icon that is reputed to work miracles - Blaszczykowski's life was marked by tragedy at the tender age of 11.





Blaszczykowski's mother died in his arms, stabbed by his father during a domestic dispute. He was then brought up by his grandmother with help from his brother. However, it was Blaszczykowski's uncle, Jerzy Brzeczek, captain of Poland's silver medal-winning team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, that helped him get focused on football and onto the pitch for good.

Each time he scores a goal, 'Kuba' always gazes up to the sky. "It's a symbolic gesture to thank my Mum, who always believed in me," says Blaszczykowski, now a married father of two.

Now, Poland and Crowe are hoping Blaszczykowski can make the most of a wildly open draw in France to fire the Poles to a first ever major tournament win.