Wojciech Szczesny bet Juventus teammate Kenan Yildiz ‘will be nominated for the Ballon d’Or within 5 years’ and reveals his unorthodox preparation for Poland’s penalty shoot-out with Wales.

The goalkeeper sat down for a video podcast with Poland’s Foot Truck and discussed topics including his Bianconeri companion, 18-year-old talent Kenan Yildiz.

“I bet with a friend that Kenan Yildiz will be nominated for the Ballon d’Or within five years. I played with many players, but I never saw a talent like him. I am confident that I will win that bet.”

Szczesny will be participating in the EURO 2024 tournament this summer, as Poland fought their way through the play-offs and qualified thanks to a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Wales.

Just before that shoot-out began in Cardiff, the goalkeeper disappeared back into the locker room. How was he preparing for one of the biggest events of his career?

“Do you want the official version or the non-official version? I went to analyse the penalty takers in peace. And by ‘in peace’ I do mean with a cigarette…”

The former Arsenal and Roma shot-stopper is famously one of the most committed smokers in the sport and has never hidden his passion for tobacco.

It hasn’t stopped him still performing at the highest level when he turns 34 later this month, but he admits his international career is coming towards the end.

“Yes, we can say I will stop after EURO 2024. I have no doubts and nobody is trying to convince me to change this decision either. My family knows my plans and I think everyone knows this is the natural order of things.

“There is no point starting this new set of qualifiers for the World Cup if I could not finish that experience. If it means just staying to play a few Nations League games, then I think it best to leave room for others to prepare for the future.”

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