The Poland-born Germany forward scored two goals Sunday to lead his current country to a 2-0 win over his native nation in the European Championship, giving the three-time champions three points from their opening match.
"I didn't celebrate very much because I was born in Poland, I have a big family there, and you have to have some respect for the land," said Podolski, who added he had relatives from Poland in the stands.
"It was one game we won. We wanted to win, but we have to improve against Croatia. It was a bit more difficult to play against Poland two years ago, they were defensively good today, but I think they wanted to play a little bit more with us. It was easier than two years ago."
Podolski was born in Poland but went to Germany as a child and became a citizen. Normally a striker, Podolski got to start as a left midfielder Sunday and justified the selection by scoring in the 20th minute. Mario Gomez flicked the ball through the defense to Miroslav Klose, who squared to Podolski with goalkeeper Artur Boruc scrambling to get back.
In the 73rd, Bastian Schweinsteiger shook off a half-hearted challenge by Pawel Golanski and fed Klose, who mis-kicked the ball but it bounced to Podolski, who volleyed it in from close range.
"Naturally, we are pleased with the result. We had to find out where we stand as a team, because it's the first game," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "We are a good team, we played very well. It was a demonstration of our will, of our desire."
Poland coach Leo Beenhakker said his team was far from outplayed.
"We had some good possibilities," the Dutchman said. "There was a moment in the second half where we were totally dominating the game. But after the second goal, it was over. We played for 70 minutes at the same level as them. The last 20 minutes we want to forget."
Now, he has to lift his beaten team for its next game against Austria in Vienna on Thursday.
"Everybody was upset about the result and not happy, but we are still in the tournament and that's what it's all about," Beenhakker said. "We have three or four days to recover physically and mentally and it's part of being a professional. Everybody is a bit upset now. Tomorrow we will see how the team is, then we will start up again. Knowing these guys are mentally strong and against Austria, they will be ready."
Gomez did better in setting up his teammates than finishing himself. Early in the game, Klose used a perfect through ball from Michael Ballack to feed Gomez, but the striker could not prod the ball it in despite sliding at the far post. Later, he collected a good cross from Clemens Fritz but shot wide. Klose, with his back to the net, tried to touch the ball in but missed.
Poland, winless against Germany in 15 previous games, came out with determination and ambition to wipe out 75 years of frustration and nearly scored a couple of minutes into the match. Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann collided with central defender Per Mertesacker and the ball rolled to Jacek Krzynowek, but his shot went high.
Wojciech Lobodzinski, who sent several useful crosses from the right in the first half, found Maciej Zuravski in the 36th, but he drove his volley way over the crossbar.
With Germany seeking to secure victory, Philipp Lahm charged down the right and crossed to Ballack, who sent a volley but Boruc made a tremendous save by tipping the ball over with his left hand in the 70th.
In the other Group B game, Croatia beat co-host Austria 1-0 in Vienna.