Goalkeeper Artur Boruc hopes Poland can emulate their countrymen from 1973 by denying England a place at the World Cup with at least a draw at Wembley
Poland’s World Cup dream is over but the country’s goalkeeper Artur Boruc is determined to evoke memories of his most famous predecessor, Jan Tomaszewski, to ruin Roy Hodgson’s chances of automatic qualification for Brazil.
Southampton’s current No 1 was not even born when Tomaszewski etched his name into England history in 1973 with an imperious display at Wembley to deny the hosts a place at the World Cup and effectively end the reign of Sir Alf Ramsey.
Tomaszewski had been infamously branded “a clown” by Brian Clough in the build-up to the game, but Boruc will use those heroics as inspiration, even though Poland’s own hopes of appearing in Brazil were extinguished on Friday night after the 1-0 defeat in Ukraine.
The events of 40 years ago will be unavoidable for Waldemar Fornalik’s players in the next 48 hours and Boruc will undoubtedly go into the game with added pressure on his shoulders.
“We are still talking about Jan Tomaszewski in Poland and we’ve all been brought up on what happened in that game,” he said. “It’s not going to be the same sort of match because we can’t qualify but I just want to stop England.
“If I’m playing I want to stop them scoring like Tomaszewski did all those years ago. But at the same time I wouldn’t want to be him – I’m Artur Boruc and want to be remembered in history by my own name.
“I seem to play better under pressure and I hope it goes that way against England, I really do. We will not be playing a weakened team and there will be lots of Polish people there providing great support for us. We just don’t want to disappoint them.
“Both teams are under pressure but we went out of the World Cup on Friday and we want to get our respect back. We will be playing to win and we want to do this because it’s our last game. We’ve got nothing to lose.”
Poland suffered their second defeat of the qualifying campaign in Kharkiv on Friday, but will ensure their bitter rivals win the group if they draw or win at Wembley, with Ukraine expected to win easily in their final game against whipping boys San Marino.
Fornalik, the Poland manager, had been under severe pressure in his country even before their failure to qualify was confirmed and it is widely expected that he will be dismissed whatever the result against England.
But Boruc, who has kept five clean sheets this season for Southampton, believes there could still be surprises in a group that has been far from predictable, particularly with around 18,000 Polish fans expected at Wembley.
He said: “I don’t really know who the best team have been. Nobody showed right from the start that they could easily win the group, every team has suffered lots of disappointment.
“We’re the same with our performances against Moldova and Montenegro at home. It’s the same as all the teams. It’s still open and that’s what makes it interesting for us. England have the individuals but do struggle at Wembley sometimes. When you’re playing as a team it’s always harder, especially with the national team, because you see each other once every two months.”