“I never would have imagined playing with a world champion”

'He who does not risk does not win', he must have thought Jesus Jimenez (Leganés, 1993) when, while playing for CF Talavera, of Second Division B, he received an offer from Polish Górnik Zabrze. “In football you depend 100% on yourself. When you do it well, everyone calls you, but if you do it badly, not even your mother loves you,” he exaggerates with a laugh. He knew how to take advantage of his moment, although he did not consider rejecting the most successful club in Poland. “I was in Second B and I received an offer from a team that had just qualified for the previous phase of the Europa League. How can I say no? I had no doubts and now I know how much it is enriching to leave your area of comfort, but it is difficult. Even if they multiply your salary by five, there are people who are afraid and do not take risks. If you don't play and then when you come back, nobody remembers you in Spain … “, he reflects days before starting what will be his fourth season at Ekstraklasa.

Jesús Jiménez has already made it past a hundred games with Górnik. To his credit, 34 goals and 21 assists that have made him a true hero in Zabrze, a city of 160,000 inhabitants that bases its economy on coal and iron mines, the manufacture of wire and glass, and chemical and oil production. “When you go down the street you feel observed, people talk to you to wish you luck … But it is not crazy, in Poland they are very reserved.” Jiménez, like all the Górnik Zabrze fans, has high hopes for this season. The club signed a Jan Urban, local idol, and reinforced the attack with the German international Lukas Podolski, who was born in Gliwice and has never hidden his desire to play in the Ekstraklasa. “The arrival of Podolski has turned Poland upside down. He has played at the highest level, both with his clubs and with the national team, and I hope to learn a lot from his side. I would never have imagined playing – not even training! – with a world champion. “

Podolski, in his presentation with Górnik Zabrze

The Zabrze have already endorsed Górnik the label of candidate to win the Ekstraklasa, an achievement that the mining club has not celebrated since 1988, when Jan Urban still dressed in short. “We are aware that this is not our reality, but it is true that, in Poland, anyone can beat anyone. Piast Gliwice showed it two years ago, who escaped relegation on the last day and a few months later lifted the title. . Two figures have arrived, it is normal for people to get excited“, analyzes Jesús Jiménez,” totally adapted “to a championship in which last season he scored 12 goals despite varying a lot in position and measuring himself against defenses full of centrals.” I have a lot of mobility and the systems of three centrals is not something. that I worry. You cannot receive long because there is a lot of coverage, so you have to move more between the lines. I try to play closer to my teammates and look for intermediate areas that make the defenders doubt. “The Spaniard took six penalties and never missed.” You have to be very clear about what you are going to do. Goalkeepers always shoot half a second early and I take advantage of that time to shoot to one side or the other. Mendieta did it that way. If you are going to go with doubts, you better not throw it away. “

Although the beginnings were complicated – “the Polish winter does not like even the Poles” -, Jesús Jiménez feels “very comfortable” in Poland, a country to which 17 other Spanish footballers have already arrived this summer. “They will not stop coming because we are standing out. We are highly valued.” The Leganense forward has already completed his third week of preseason and is anxiously awaiting the start of the Ekstraklasa, scheduled for July 23. He will, to the sadness of all Zabrze, without the recently deceased Mr. Stanislaw, a mythical Górnik fan who gave a rooster to the best player in each home game. “You could take it alive or ask it to be prepared for you to cook. I said to prepare it for me. Igor Angulo was caught by surprise the first time, he was taken away in the cage and he escaped in a parking lot,” he recalls. To the joy of Jiménez, the Ekstraklasa will return with an audience in the stands. “Finally, because it costs a lot to get into a game without fans, it seems like training. When you play a derby and it has to stop because it can't be seen because of the flares … I play on nights like that. Football is better when there are people in the stands “, estimates Jiménez, who considers it a” responsibility “to wear the Górnik Zabrze shirt:” Until last year it was the club with the most titles, it is the one that has gone the furthest in Europe and the one who has represented Poland the most times at the international level, “he says proudly.