For nearly five decades, Polish goalkeepers have been considered among the world’s best.
It was in 1973 that Jan Tomaszewski – who the late Brian Clough famously described as ‘that clown’ -produced a heroic performance at Wembley to deny England a place at the 1974 FIFA World Cup finals.
In 1987, Jozef Mlynarczyk helped FC Porto win the European Cup, before Jerzy Dudek’s outstanding performance helped Liverpool lift the same trophy in 2005.
In more recent seasons, Artur Boruc, Wojciech Szczesny and West Ham United's Lukasz Fabianski have all graced the Premier League, while Szczesny, Bartlomiej Dragowski and Lukasz Skorupski are all playing in Italy’s Serie A this term.
So, Fabianski was asked, why is it that Poland produces so many top-class goalkeepers?
Sometimes, when you speak to players from other countries, being a goalkeeper was not cool, but in Poland it’s cool to be a goalkeeper!
“I’ve been asked this question many times – even Xavi Valero asked me – and for me, personally, when I was growing up, I had a physical education teacher at school who paid attention to developing me as an all-round athlete,” West Ham’s No1 observed.
“We did gymnastics, basketball, handball, volleyball, all types of different sports, and the teacher would encourage us to participate in all the athletic competitions and try to represent our school.
“For me, that was important, as I enjoyed sports and it enabled me to take part in different disciplines and gave me the chance to be presented with an award at the end of the school year –
that was a nice thing for me!
“It helped me to become agile and that’s one aspect of it, while another aspect was that I had my first goalkeeping coaching session when I was at a very young age at my local club. I was around eleven or 12 and the first-team goalkeeper would come across and give us tips which I found very useful.
“Then, the perception of goalkeeping in Poland changed for all of us in my era when we all saw Dudek performing at such a high level.
“From then on, the coaching was not just about catching or handling, but about all the little things – agility, technique, distribution – that help you as a goalkeeper.
“I’ve had that from the age of 15 until now, basically, and that’s the thing most kids have had at their clubs.
“Sometimes, when you speak to players from other countries, being a goalkeeper was not cool, but in Poland it’s cool to be a goalkeeper!
“In recent years, you think of goalkeepers and Robert Lewandowski, so that’s why a lot of young kids who want to be goalkeepers. That’s what is happening in Poland – kids are seeing Wojciech, Artur, myself and others in Serie A and thinking ‘If they can make it, so can I’.”