Friday, December 5, 2014

Poland Greatest All-time team

Poland 1974

This is my all-time team for PolandIf there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
Polish diaspora

Poland entered its first ever World Cup Finals in 1938.  They played an epic match against Brazil, where Ernst Wilimowski scored 4 goals.  However, for the next 34 years, Polish football did not make any other mark internationally.  Then, Poland had a Golden era between 1972 and 1986. They won the Olympic Gold in 1972.  And then, progressed to the semifinal of the WC Finals in 1974 and 1978.  In 1974, Poland probably fielded their greatest ever team(even through Wlodzimierz Lubanski missed the Finals).  Their heroics actually started with the World Cup Qualifier against England at Wembley in 1973. They drew England and eliminated them in the progress.  It was considered one of England's blackest nights in their football history.  Then, Poland came third in the WC Finals.  Grzegorz Lato finished as the top scorer. Some football historians considered Poland 1974 as good as Netherlands and West Germany of the same tournament.  In 1982, Poland eliminated the Soviet Union in the 2nd round under the cloud of the Solidarity movement of the 1980's.  They again finished 3rd.  

After the World Cup Finals in 1986, the standard of Polish football declined.  They had high expectations at the World Cup Finals in 2006, where they played in next door Germany, but they failed to go past the Group stage.  Again, in 2008, Poland hosted the European Championship, but failed to reach the second stage.
England vs Poland, 1973

GK: Jan Tomaszewski
Jan Tomaszewski was considered one of the top keepers in the history of the game.  Before the important World Cup Qualifiers vs England in 1973, Brian Clough called him a "clown".  He responded by playing a man-of-the-match performance in which Poland eliminated England and qualified for the WC Finals in West Germany.  At the World Cup Finals, Poland reached the semifinal.  he won 63 caps for Poland, making him his country's most-capped 'keeper.
Jan Tomaszewski
GK: Jozef Mlynarczyk
Jozef Mlynarczyk left Poland in 1984 to play in the West.  He played in Bastia.  He was best remembered for his stint with F.C. Porto where he won the European Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the UEFA Super Cup in 1987.  He was the starting keeper for Poland at the World Cup Finals in 1982 and 1986. He was Polish Player of the Year in 1983.

GK:  Edward Szymkowiak
Edward Szymkowiak was a keeper from the late 1950's and 1960's.  He was the starting keeper in 1957 when Poland beat the Soviet Union.  He was Poland's Player of the season four times: 1957, 1958, 1965, 1966.  He played for such a clubs like Ruch Chorzów and Legia Warszawa, but most of his career he spent in Polonia Bytom. He is one of the legend of that club. The stadium of Polonia Bytom is named after him.

RB: Antoni Szymanowski
Antoni Szymanowski was a member of the Poland national football team in two FIFA World Cups: 1974 and 1978.  He won a Gold Model at the 1972 Olympics. He is considered to be one of Poland's greatest defenders.  He spent most of his career with Wisła Kraków. He played briefly in Belgium with Club Brugge at the end of his career.

RB Łukasz Piszczek
Lukasz Piszczek is among the top fullback playing in the Bundesliga. He started his career with Hertha Berlin. He is a member of Borussia Dortmund team that finished as the runner-up at the Champions' League, having previously played for Hertha BSC and Zagłębie Lubin. Since 2007, he picked up over 55 caps for Poland. He participated at the European Champship of 2008, 2012 and 2016.  
Łukasz Piszczek
CB: Stanisław Oślizło
Stanisław Oślizło was a captain of Górnik Zabrze in the Cup Winners Cup final in 1970 versus Manchester City.  He also played for Odra Wodzisław and later Górnik Radlin. He played for Poland 57 times scoring one goal.  He played for Poland 57 times scoring one goal (1961–1971). He played right before the Golden Generation.

CB: Kamil Glik
At the time of writing, Gik plays for AS Monaco.  Previously, he played for Piast Gliwice (2008–2010), Palermo (2010–2011) and Torino F.C. (2011–2016) .  For Poland, he played over 60 times since 2010.  He played in Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup Finals.

CB:  Jerzy Gorgon
Jerzy Gorgon is considered to be one of Poland's greatest defensive players playing along side Władysław Zmuda. With Górnik Zabrze, he won five consecutive Polish Cups in 1968-72.  He had 55 caps. He was a participant at the World Cup Finals in 1974 and 1978.  Gorgoń moved to Argentina in 1978. He had a mostly unsuccessful time there and moved back to Switzerland in 1980 to play for FC Gallen.

CB:  Władysław Zmuda
Władysław Zmuda was probably Poland's best ever defender.  He earned 91 caps for the Poland and is a four-time FIFA World Cup participant.  He played a total of 21 matches at the World Cup finals, which (tied with Uwe Seeler and Diego Maradona) is the third most appearances ever, behind only Lothar Matthaus and Paolo Maldini. At the club level, he played for Śląsk Wrocław, Widzew Łódź, Hellas Verona, New York Cosmos and US Cremonese.
Władysław Zmuda
LB:  Adam Musial
Adam Musial spent the best part of his career with Wisla Krakow. He also played in Poland for Arka Gdynia and in England for Hereford in 1980 and 1983.  He also played in the United States at the end of his career. He was capped 34 times. He played for Poland at the World Cup finals in 1974, where Poland finished third.

DM: Zygmunt Maszczyk
Zygmunt Maszczyk had 36 caps and played for Poland at the World Cup finals in 1974. He won the gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics and a silver medal four years at the 1976 Summer Olympics.  He played mostly for Ruch Chorzów, where he was an icon.  At the end of his career, he played a single season for Valenciennes FC.

DM: Grzegorz Krychowiak 
Grzegorz Krychowiak started his career in France with Bordeaux, but played mainly with Stade de Reims.  From 2014 and 2016, he played for Sevilla, where he won Europa League each of his two seasons. In 2016, he joined Paris St Germain, but spent his time on loan. Since 2008, he was capped by Poland.  He played in the 2016 European Championship and the 2018 World Cup Finals.

CM: Henryk Kasperczak
As a player, Kasperczak took part in two FIFA World Cups with Poland, achieving third place in 1974.  He won a silver medal  at the 1976 Summer Olympics. With Stal Mielec, Kasperczak won two Ekstraklasa Championships in his native Poland. He had also played for the reserve team of Legia Warsaw, before ending his career in FC Metz.

RW: Jakub Błaszczykowski
He started his career at Wisła Kraków. In 2007, he joined Borussia Dortmund, where he spent the majority of his career, making over 250 appearances and winning two Bundesliga titles, two DFL-Supercups, and one DFB-Pokal.  Since 2006, he earned over 100 caps for Poland. 

LW:  Grzegorz Lato
Grzegorz Lato was a key player during Poland's Golden era in football, largely beginning at the 1972 Olympics where they won the Gold Medal and ended with the World Cup Finals in 1986.   He was the leading scorer at the 1974 World Cup.  Lato spent most of his club career with Stal Mielec and led them to Polish Premier League championships in 1973 and 1976.  In 1980, he began playing for the Belgian club K.S.C. Lokeren. He had also played in Mexico during the 1982–83 season for Atlante F.C.,
Grzegorz Lato
LW: Robert Gadocha
Robert Gadocha was capped 62 times form 1967 to 1975.  He was also member of the 1972 Summer Olympics, winning a Gold Medal and as well as attending the 1974 World Cup Finals in Wesr Germany.  He started his career in Garbarnia Krakow, but he spent most of his career with Legia Warsaw. He also played in FC Nantes in France between 1975 and 1978 and the Chicago Sting in NASL in 1978.

AM: Kazimierz Deyna
Kazimierz Deyna was one of the greatest playmakers from Eastern Europe.  He played for Poland on 97 times, scoring 41 goals, and often captained the side.  He won the Gold Medal in the 1972 Olympic Games.  He went to the WC Finals in 1974, where he made the Team of the Tournament. He played mostly for Legia Warsaw. Later, he played for Manchester City between 1978 and 1981 and San Diego Sockers in the 1980's.
Kazimierz Deyna
FW: Ernst Wilimowski
Born in 1916, Ernst Wilimowski was a native of Silesia. He was one of the best goalscorers in the history of both the Polish national team and in Polish club soccer.  He played for Poland at the WC in 1938, where he became the first player to score 4 goals in a game.  During the War, he retook German citizenship because of the situation in Silesia.  He played for Germany from 1941, earming 8 caps scoring 13 goals in his career.   

FW/RW/LW: Zbigniew Boniek
Zbigniew Boniek is one of the greatest Polish players in the history of the game.  He was capped 80 times. Boniek first played for Polish clubs Zawisza Bydgoszcz and later at Widzew Łódź.  After a starring role at the World Cup Finals in 1982, he moved to Italy and played for Juventus alongside Platini, Zoff and Rossi.  He won the penalty that sealed the European Cup in 1985 for Juvnetus.  He is an all-time greats with the club.  He also played for Roma at the end of his career.
Zbigniew Boniek
ST: Ernst Pohl
Ernst Pohl is one of the greatest Polish attackers.  He played for Slavia Ruda Śląska, Orzeł Łódź between 1952 and 1953, Legia Warsaw between 1953 and 1955 and Górnik Zabrze between 1956 and 1967. He scored 186 goals in the Polish league. He scored 39 goals in 46 games for Poland.  During the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, he scored a rare 5 goals in a 6:1 win against Tunisia.

ST:  Wlodzimierz Lubanski
Wlodzimierz Lubanski is Poland's greatest striker.  He was at one point the all-time highest goal scorer for the Polish national team. For his national team, Lubański amassed 75 caps between 1963 and 1980, scoring 48 goals.  He missed the WC Finals in 1974 because of injury, but he went to play in the 1978 World Cup Finals. He played for Górnik Zabrze in Poland before heading to play in the West in 1975.

ST:  Andrzej Szarmach
Andrzej Szarmach played in the Golden Generation of the early 1970's.  Szarmach profited from the absence of Włodzimierz Lubański to lead the Polish attack at the World Cup Finals in 1974, where he scored 5 goals. He won a silver medal at the 1976 Olympics where he finished as the top scorer. In Poland, he played for Górnik Zabrze and Stal Mielec.  Later, he played for AJ Auxerre.
ST:  Robert Lewandowski
At the time of writing, Robert Lewandowski is Poland's all-time leading scorer.  He started with Znicz Pruszków and Lech Poznań, but he is known for his career with Borussia Dortmund, where he scored over 70 goals and reached the Champions' League Final in 2013.  After the 2013-2014 season, he moved to rival Bayern Munich under a controversial situation.  For Poland, he was capped over 90 times.  He played in Euro 2012 and 2016, and the World Cup Finals in 2018.
Robert Lewandowski

Honorable Mention
Tomasz Wałdoch, Stanislaw Oslizlo, Roman Wójcicki, Paweł Janas, Stefan Majewski, Jacek Krzynówek, Józef Młynarczyk, Piotr Nowak, Jerzy Dudek, Artur Boruc, Jacek Bąk, Tomasz Wałdoch, Michał Żewłakow, Robert Gadocha, Zygmunt Anczok.

Squad Explanation 
-- Robert Lewandowski, Jan Tomaszewski, Ernst Wilimowski, Władysław Zmuda, Jerzy Gorgon, Zbigniew Boniek, Kazimierz Deyna and Grzegorz Lato are automatic selections.  No need for explanations,
-- Most of the squad played between the 1972 Olympics and the 1986 World Cup Finals.  Poland won a Gold Medal in the 1972 Olympics and then, a silver medal four years later.  They also qualified 4 straight World Cup Finals.  They advanced to the semi-final twice in this period.  
-- Poland first established themselves to reckon with during the World Cup Qualifier in 1973.  They qualified ahead of a very good English side.  I did a what if England World Cup 1974 side.
-- Sixteen of the 23 members on this team played during that period.  Lucjan Brychczy who retired in 1970 was not much older.
-- Without Peter Shilton and Norman Hunter's blunders in the Wembley's World Cup Qualifier in 1973, Poland's legacy would not be the same. Bobby Moore also had another blunder in the earlier game against them too. 
-- I went with three older keepers, but Jerzy Dudek and Artur Boruc established themselves playing club football in Western Europe.
-- Goalkeeper Jozef Mlynarczyk won an European Cup with Porto in 1987.
-- Władysław Zmuda is one of the most underarrated defender of the 1970's.  Jerzy Gorgon was even more underrated.  The two of them helped Poland to become a force in Europe during the Golden Generation.
-- Tomasz Wałdoch's name came up on several Polish language spource as Poland's greatest centerbacks.
-- Ernst Wilimowski is the best player before the 1970's.  He was of Silesian German background.  During the War, he switched back to German citizen and played for Germay.  Let's leave politics away from this blog. 
-- Ernest Pohl is not as well-known as Wilimowski, but he is also one of the all-time greats before 1970's.
-- Poland went through a dark period after the World Cup Finals in 1986. The current generation of Polish players is the best since the 1980's. Robert Lewandowski is among the greatest ever. He might have became the better than Wlodzimierz Lubanski. 
-- The original team was created in December, 2014.  Łukasz Piszczek and Roberto Lewandowski already made the team.  Since 2014, Roberto Lewandowski firmly established himself among the best strikers in the world. I now considered him as the greatest striker ever from Poland.
-- In 2019, I updated the team to select more players from the 2010's generation. I dropped Roman Wójcicki.  Instead, I selected Kamil Glik who proved himself at the club level. 
-- I have too many forwards on my original team and I need more wide player or winger.  So I selected right winger Jakub Błaszczykowski and dropped striker Lucjan Brychczy.  At first, I was reluctant to drop Brychczy because he was the 1950's.  I preferred a team balanced with players from different eras and I did not have many players from the 1950's. 
-- In 2019, I also decided to keep goalkeeper Edward Szymkowiak over Jerzy Dudek. Both players deserved to be on the team.
-- The team lacked midfielders.  So in 2019, I also added Grzegorz Krychowiak to the team.  I dropped left back Zygmunt Anczok whose career was unfulfilled due to injuries. Perhaps, if he played in the 1974 World Cup Finals, he might have been a better known player.

Starting lineup
Formation 4-3-3

The squad is based upon the starting lineup of the World Cup 1974.  This is actually the best ever lineup and it jsut happened that it was dominated by the 1974 team.  I only made two chances.  I brought Lubanski who missed the actual tournament and Boniek into the team.  Robert Lewandowski should actually start ahead of Lubanski.


  1. I would put Andrzej Szarmach instead of Lubansky. The reason: Szarmach perfomed very well in 3 world cups when it counts the most. Lubansky had his opportunity in the world cup 1978 and He got it totally wrong