FOOTBALL – POLISH EDITION
by Adam Przyszło
Erasmus + project is an international program and, apart from Poland, countries which take part in it are: Great Britain, Spain, France, Finland, Holland and Germany. Most of them have strong local football leagues and in every single one of them plays at least on Polish footballer.
To start with, three Polish players are in English premier league: Marcin Wasilewski (Leicester), Łukasz Fabiański (Swansea) and Artur Boruc (Bournemouth).
Third of them is the most important person in his team. He was born on the 20th February 1980. He started his career in a hometown club - Pogoń Siedlce. Next, he played for Legia Warszawa. Later he joined Dolcan Zabki on loan. In 2005 he left Poland and went to Scotland to Celtic FC. At this point he was nicknamed 'The Holie Goalie'. In 2010 he moved on to Fiorentina. After 2 years he came back to England (he spent 3 years in Southampton). Since 2014 he has been playing for Bournemouth.
As far as Germany is concerned, there are also two players. Both of them play for Lech Poznań: Niclas Zulciak and Denis Thomalla. The latter one is a more popular striker, but he still hasn't scored a single goal this season. Before signing for Lech Poznań he played for SV Ried and his German clubs were RB Leipzig and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. As a junior he represented Karlsruher SC and SC Buchenbronn.
Many Polish footballers are in Germany, but the best of them is Robert Lewandowski. He is well known not only there, but also in most parts of the World. He is also the captain and the real leader of Polish national team. He began his career in the third Polish football division, just like Artur Boruc, (2006-2008 he played in Znicz Pruszków). In 2008 he was sold to Lech Poznań and 2 years later he joined Borrusia Dortmund (he has been there for 4 years). He is playing for Bayern FC now and he is a top goal scorer there.
The real star of Polish top football league is a Finnish midfielder Kasper Hamalainen. As well as the Germans, he plays for Lech Poznań. This season he is the best player in his club and, in addition, he is Lech's top scorer. To Poland he came from Sweden, but before that he had played for Turun Palloseura for many years and also for Inter Turku as a youngster. One of his teammates is a fellow countryman Paulus Arajuuri.
The only Englishman in Ekstraklasa plays for Śląsk Wrocław. It is Tom Hateley, whose father, Mark, represented England during 1986 World Cup and was capped 32 times for the national team. At this point Tom didn't manage to reach the same level as his father. He started his career in Reading but his best period was in Motherwell FC. Just before coming to Poland he played for Tranmere Rovers.
This season there are no players from Holland and France. But last year and two years ago this nations were represented by very experienced and popular players. In 2014/2015 Oliver Kapo from France played for Korona Kielce. This French player spent many years in top European football clubs, such as Auxerre, Juventus, Monaco, Levante, Birmingham, Wigan and Celtic. As for the Dutch players, Collins John was the last one to appear in Poland (2013/2014). This player was in Piast Gliwice, but he only played twice. Back in Holland he played for FC Twente and NEC Nijmegen, but during his career he also spent a lot of time in England (Fulham, Leicester City, Watford and Barnet FC). Both Kapo and John have played for their national teams.
A few poles play in the Netherlands. One of them is Arkadiusz Milik. He began his career in 2010 in Rozwój Katowice. He was a very young player when he started playing in Polish top league - Ekstraklasa. After that, he went to Germany for 3 years: to Bayer Leverkusen and to Augsburg. Since 2014 he has played in Ajax Amsterdam and, just like Lewandowski in Bayern, he is one o the key players back there.
Grzegorz Krychowiak is one of a few polish footballers in Spain. He plays for Sevilla, but he started his senior career in France where he played for three different clubs (Bordeaux, Reims and Nantes). He became famous in Reimes after scoring a few important goals – one of them against PSG. Since 2014 he has played for Sevilla and last year he scored a goal in Europa League final, which his present team has already won twice in a row.
The last, but not the least – the Finnish leauge. Only one Polish footballer, Artur Lemanowicz, plays there at this point. He is a centre defender. He started his career in 2002 in the second team of Wisła Płock. He has played in seven Polish teams. After this he went to Finland to Vasa IFK. He is playing there now, but in season 2009/2010 he came back to Poland to Błękitni Gąbin.
Now let's describe the situation from a different angle. Foreigners in the Polish Ekstraklasa. This will be more difficult as our national league is neither popular nor rich. Most of the players come from Czech Republic, Slovakia and Serbia but there are, and were, also a few from our Erasmus friends' countries.
During this season there are two players representing Spain: Airam Cabrera (Korona Kielce) and Gerard Badia (Piast Gliwice). The second one is definately being more importatnt to his team. He is a midfielder and this is his third season in Poland. His previous clubs were SD Noja, CD Guadalajara, Real Murcia, CF Gava and CD Tortosa, where he started his career.
As you can see, there are not many players from Western Europe who play in Poland. Let's hope that the fact that our national team is getting better and better, and our clubs play quite well in the Europa League, more famous players will be willing to play in our country.