FINDING the right recipe for success has been key to Robert Lewandowski’s career according to Hearts defender Blazej Augustyn.
The Polish captain, who has been in scintillating scoring form in recent weeks, poses a major threat to Scotland’s chances of qualifying for Euro 2016 when the countries clash at Hampden on Thursday evening.
But his compatriot says that, while there was early promise when they progressed through the international youth ranks together, the man who has scored 29 goals in his 70 full caps, has certainly flourished since those days.
“We played with him for the under-17s and under-18s,” said Augustyn. “He wasn’t as good then as he is now but he has grown up a lot since then. Some people take big steps forward, others take steps back. With him I am not surprised at how he has gone on. He is a good guy. He was always looking at ways to improve.
“And then he met his wife – and I don’t know what things she does for him but it works! She is famous for her cooking in Poland.
“She makes things without gluten. She says on her blog some things she cooks, but sometimes she won’t say anything about what he has had to eat before the game!”
Whatever it is, it is working. “When I was with the under-21s he was already in the first team,” added the Hearts player. “It’s always nice to see a guy you played with get to that level.
“In the current [Poland] team I know Kamil Glik, Kamil Grosicki and Maciej Rybus. They know it will be a hard game. All Polish people know that. But they all say if we don’t beat Scotland right now we shouldn’t go to France.”
Augustyn hasn’t ruled out all hope of forcing his way into international reckoning but is aware that would require a season of consistently high performances in the Premiership.
The 27-year-old, who started his senior career at Bolton and had spells in Italy, was Robbie Nielson’s first signing of the summer. Injury has curtailed him, with only two outings in August. But with three games in quick succession, facing Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and then Celtic within a week, he is now raring to prove himself.
“I was always close to being called up but my injuries made me far away. If I can play well here every week for one season then they will look at me at least.
“I am just trying to do my best here every day and I am looking forward to being as strong as I can be.
“After the Celtic game I was really tired but now I feel good, I have trained all week and I am looking forward to playing well.”
A key component in a Hearts rearguard, which managed to keep the defending champions at bay at Parkhead last weekend, Augustyn says that should be viewed as something for the Gorgie team to build on.
“We have to be optimistic right now because good teams from all over Europe go there and lose goals so we did well. We defended as a team, even the strikers helped.Now we have to play like that against all the other teams.” Starting today against a Kilrmarnock team seeking revenge for that recent League Cup defeat.