Nowak thanks friends, family, countrymen

Following is D.C. United coach Peter Nowak's statement after he was presented with the Knight Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, the highest honor bestowed on a Polish citizen.

President Kwasniewski, Mayor Williams, dear guests:

I'm very pleased and honored to receive these great honors. I would like to recognize a few people who are very close to my heart and who came here today to share this very special moment with my family and me.

Phil and Nancy Anschutz ... thank you for your friendship, for your help and support.

I would like to thank D.C. United President and CEO Kevin Payne and D.C. United Technical Director Dave Kasper for giving me an opportunity to be the head coach of the most successful franchise in Major League Soccer history with four championships in nine years.

Thank you also to my assistants Tom Soehn and Mark Simpson, the team staff, D.C. United's front office and especially to D.C. United's players, thank you for your trust and belief. To D.C. United fans, thank you for your warm welcome and a great support throughout the season.

To MLS Commissioner Don Garber, U.S. national team head coach Bruce Arena and Mr. Bob Bradley, thank you for encouraging me to take another step in my career, this time as a coach. To Chicago Fire General Manager Peter Wilt and the whole Chicago Fire organization and its fans, thank you for five fantastic years. To my Zone Coach Jim Fannin, thank you for preparing and helping me to be a better player, a better coach and a better person.

Thank you to Mr. Joe Machnik, Mr. William Daluga, Mr. Ron Waxman, Mr. John Majewski, Mr. Shep Messing and all my friends in Chicago and Florida. Thank you. To all of my Polish coaches, from Mr. Szalecki to Mr. Piechniczek, and all Polish fans who supported me and the teams I played for, thank you.

I would like to dedicate these awards to my wonderful family, my father and mother, my beautiful daughters Natalia and Julia, and my wife Marzenna. Thank you for your love, your passion and understanding.

Thank you.