England match a must-win - Polands Tomaszewski
Published : 16 Oct 2012 14:17:37
Poland's 2014 World Cup qualifier against England is a must-win, says iconic Polish ex-goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, who famously deprived the English of a berth at the 1974 edition.
'Everyone's got to give 100 percent,' Tomaszewski said in an opinion piece for the Polish news portal Onet ahead of Tuesday's meeting in Warsaw's Kazimierz Gorski stadium.
'You have to win home games. From my perspective, a draw would be like a defeat,' added the 64-year-old, who is now a controversial pundit and right-wing member of parliament.
The Poles are aware history is against them, having beaten England just once, in Tomaszewski's era, and drawn six times in a total of 17 meetings.
During the race to reach the 1974 World Cup, Poland travelled to London's Wembley stadium in October 1973 for a do or die clash under the management of Gorski, lionised by fans to this day.
Ahead of the game, Tomaszewski was dubbed a "clown" by English club manager Brian Clough. But his heroics kept the score at 1-1 and kept England away from the following year's finals in West Germany, where Poland finished third.
Tomaszewski and other members of that era's team symbolise the long-lost glory days when Poland won Olympic gold in 1972, silver in 1976, and also finished third at the 1982 World Cup.
But while the Wembley match is etched into fans' minds, Tomaszewski said today's players would do better to remember the June 1973 home leg, when Poland beat England 2-0 in Chorzow.
"We'd made a terrible start to qualifying, losing 2-0 away to Wales, who we called 'England C'. They were a random team. The sort of players who hadn't made it at rugby and so started kicking a football," said Tomaszewski.
"We were so pissed off that we were determined that when England came to us, we'd be in it to win it. We played against the best footballers in the world. In a fight for every inch of pitch, a non-stop battle, it's the law of the jungle and it's the weaker bone that breaks."
Today's Poland pales compared to Tomaszewski's generation.
They dashed fans' hopes as co-hosts of Euro 2012, crashing out in the group stage under coach Franciszek Smuda, replaced by Waldemar Fornalik after the tournament debacle.
Tomaszewski said the chance for redress had arrived.
"They need to play like we did back then, as they're up against the wall. They messed up at the Euros, and Smuda left things in ruins. You have to clean up for starters, and I think we have a huge chance," he said.
Despite his comments, Poland made a decent enough start to their campaign to reach the 2014 finals in Brazil last month with a 2-2 draw in Montenegro and a 2-0 home win against Moldova.
They are rated as one of the stronger opponents in a Group H that also includes their fellow Euro 2012 hosts Ukraine and minnows San Marino, who lost 5-0 to England on Friday.