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United Coach Honored On Peter Nowak Day

Thursday, February 10, 2005; Page D02

Soon after D.C. United Coach Peter Nowak received the Cavalier Cross of the Order of Merit from Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski yesterday afternoon, Novak and United phenom Freddy Adu emerged from the Blair House near the White House. They were quickly stopped by two autograph seekers. Adu signed, while Nowak, his gleaming medal still hanging from his lapel, stood to the side and watched.

"I'm not that important," Nowak said with a laugh.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, left, gives the Cavalier Cross to D.C. United Coach Peter Nowak. (Juana Arias -- The Washington Post)

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D.C. United Coach Peter Nowak is honored by Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski on Wednesday.
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"Yeah you are," Adu countered. "It's Peter Nowak Day!"

Indeed, moments before, District Mayor Anthony A. Williams had proclaimed it so.

In a 15-minute ceremony attended by a host of dignitaries, including D.C. United investor-operator Philip F. Anschutz, team president Kevin Payne and D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission Chairman Mark H. Tuohey, Nowak received the award given to foreigners and Polish residents abroad.

Nowak, in turn, presented a black D.C. United "Kwasniewski" jersey to the president, and Adu stepped forward with a white "Adu" jersey.

Through an interpreter, Kwasniewski called the former Polish national team captain "someone that has rendered great service to Polish and American sport" and "a true ambassador of our country."

The 40-year-old coach, who grew up in Central Poland, called the Order of Merit "a great honor" and said it was "a different feeling" from leading D.C. United to the MLS Cup.

"Aw, it's okay, you can say it, we'll still love you," needled Adu, who predicted that Nowak would wear the medal during United games and pledged to call his coach "Sir" from now on. "It's your day, man."

-- Dan Steinberg

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