One year after a nasty knee injury, missing the 2015 World Championship and playing for a club struggling both on the court and financially, Jakub Lucak is on the court for Poland at the EHF EURO 2016.
Last year Poland won the bronze medal in Qatar when they defeated Spain in an emotional match. Lucak could have been continuing his unexpectedly strong form from the EHF EURO 2014, but an injury meant he was not on court in Doha alongside his teammates.
On the September 7 2014, the 26-year-old was injured in an opening league game between Chrobry Glogow and Zaglebie Lublin.
“It looked bad at first. I was afraid the worst had happened, and it had indeed,” said Chroby Glogow head coach Krzysztof Przybylski. Lucak suffered an ACL tear, which is almost the worst news a professional sportsman can get.
Surrounded by problems
Lucak’s was no stranger to bad luck however. Following his sensational performance at the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark, where he turned out to be an ace up Poland coach Michael Biegler's sleeve, he spent most of the rest of the 2013/14 season recovering from an Achilles tendon injury.
Luckily for him, his star had started shining before his injury woes began thanks to Biegler trusting in the barely known player and naming him in the squad travelling to Denmark in 2014.
But after the injury in September 2014, another season was lost to him due to the ACL tear – though even this injury could not stop Lucak.
Before the season 2015/16 started he signed for top Polish club KS Vive Tauron Kielce. However, he was soon loaned out to league underdog Slask Wroclaw.
“He is one of the best wing players in Poland when he is in shape. He will get the chance to rebuild himself after a serious injury,” Slask's coach Piotr Przybecki told wks-slask-wroclaw.pl at the time.
But Lucak’s bad luck followed him. The club struggled with financial problems and on the court the team were not at their best either. In all 16 league games played, Slask Wroclaw won just four points thanks to two wins. Those victories were mainly owing to Lucak, who found the target 17 times in those matches.
Mission not yet complete
Despite the problems of the last two years, Lucak won his personal battles, and is now a member of the team that stunned France and aims for the semi-finals.
“As soon as I underwent the surgery, I was thinking only about coming back and doing everything I could to play at the EHF EURO 2016,” he says.
He is certainly happy to be back in time to experience the EURO at home, particularly the emotions that come with singing the national anthem along with 15,000 Polish fans:
“This is the most beautiful feeling; we are really impressed with that. If it is at all possible to give us more energy, they do it.”
Lucak insists it is not a fairy tale yet, even though he has overcome many obstacles.
“I have my ambitions: I want to fight for the highest triumphs. We would really cross the t's and dot the i's with a medal won at the EHF EURO 2016.”