Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Sport plays an important role in every nation’s life. It helps to unite, show the strength and preponderance as well as to fight inferiority complex. There is no more solemn moment than when the national anthem is played at the end of competition when the gold medal is being presented.
Polish fans are very devoted to their favorite teams and sportsmen. Volleyball, Formula 1 races, ski jumping, tennis… the fans are very supportive especially if a given sport has Polish representatives that raise chances and hopes for medal. But I think there is no more popular sport in Poland than football (or soccer). Unfortunately, in the history of Polish football there are not many successful performances at the international arena. Therefore till now, to raise hopes for success, the Poles come back with their memories to 1970’ when Kazimierz Gorski and his ‘golden 11’ would win the hearts of Polish football fans.
Kazimierz Gorski, the most successful trainer of Polish football national team, was born in 1921 in Lviv (today Ukraine). He played in several football teams as a forward with a nickname ‘Sarenka’ (what means in Polish ‘Roe-deer’). His career was broken by the WW II. It was not until the end of the war that he participated in his only international match (Poland against Denmark in 1948). His greatest years and fame fall, however, on the period between 1970 and 1976 when he was a coach of Poland national football team. He led the team through 73 matches (among which 45 were won by the Poles). His biggest success were winning of gold medal in the 1972 Olympic Games (Munich, Germany), bronze medal in the 1974 World Cup (Germany) and silver medal in the 1976 Olympic Games (Montreal, Canada). After resigning from the post of Poland national team coach, Kazimierz Gorski continued his job as a trainer to become afterwards the activist of Polish Football Union. He died in 2006, still remembered as a coach of the best Polish football team ever.
Members of the team, during the period of Gorski’s coaching, were such popular Polish players as Kazimierz Deyna, Grzegorz Lato, Jan Tomaszewski (goal keeper), Henryk Kasperczak or Robert Gadocha. Their most remembered match is the one played at Wembley in 1973 against the England national team. Thanks to the tie 1:1 (the goal for Poland was scored by Jan Domarski) they qualified to the World Cup finals – at the same time eliminating England. That shook up the football world as the Poland national team was rather unknown at the international scene before 1974. This match is still reminded at many occasions in Poland, as it helps to believe that winnings like that are still possible.
Today Polish football brings to its fans rather more disappointments than joys (especially when taking into consideration the international scene). The memories of ‘golden eleven of Gorski’ are therefore still full of nostalgia.