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Poland, the crazy country for Barça even before Lewandowski

BarcelonaFew signings have been as exciting as that of Robert Lewandowski. The striker has become the first Pole to defend the Barça first team shirt, despite coming from a land where thousands of people have converted to Barça. “We were very excited to finally have one of ours at Barça,” said Adrian Bialkowski, of the Lodz Barça supporters club, one of three officials in Poland. Two are based in the capital, Warsaw, and the third, based in Lodz, already has more than 1,000 members in three years. Throughout the season, supporters clubs hold meetings, organize tournaments and travel to cheer on any Barça team that plays relatively close. Near or far, as Polish fans have come to travel to Kazan (Russia) or Tbilisi (Georgia). Polish supporters clubs have encouraged women’s football, futsal or handball when playing in Germany or Eastern Europe. A passion that has already led many fans to book flights to come to the Camp Nou this season and be able to see Lewandowski in action.

Journalist Jakub Krecidlo explained to RAC1 how Polish fans are organizing to come to the first days of the League or how they will be present at the matches of the American tour, as the community of people with Polish roots in the United States, many d ‘they big football fans, over 9 million people. “It’s one of the big sports news in Poland in years, it’s generated a lot of euphoria.” Bialkowski was in Barcelona when Lewandowski’s signing became official and explains how he has received more than 1,000 requests to buy Barça shirts with the name of the Polish striker, taking advantage of the fact that he was in the city. Once he announced that he could buy them, the requests skyrocketed, to the point that he predicts that in the first days of the League there will always be more than 500 Poles to see the captain of his team in action. In fact, it came as a surprise that the letter W ended up in Barça stores and the striker’s name could not be stamped for a day, due to high demand. “We finally have a Pole on the team. We’ve been waiting for a long time, it’s a dream come true. We’re a big country but we’ve never had one of our own. Belarus or Iceland are smaller, but they had Hleb or Gudjohnsen, ”admits Bialkowski. Polish Barça fans went to Turin for the women’s Champions League final a few months ago, but also to the Eintracht stadium in Frankfurt during the Europa League match. A passion beyond borders.

Poland has in recent years become one of the countries with the most Barça fans and the most active supporters clubs, partly because there is a certain disillusionment with its historic teams, with stands with many violent fans that have made it dangerous to go to local league games and a low level of play. One reason is that talented young people go abroad. “The level of our football has dropped and this has provoked a great passion for foreign football, especially that of Barça or Madrid,” admits Krecidlo. “We don’t have big players. Lewandowski is like a unicorn, a magical character,” Bialkowski half jokes. The passion for the Barça team has led two local publishers to translate all the books published in Catalan about Barça, by authors such as Ricard Torquemada and Carles Viñas, with more and more Poles becoming members of a club that he has won the heart of the country despite not having any of his footballers there. A les xarxes socials, els polonesos que estimen el Barça són molt actius traduint continguts de premsa en català i castellà.

The first Pole who was not Polish

For years, however, it was thought that Barça had already had a Polish player, Walter Rositzky. Various investigations have shown that he was a German citizen born in Hamburg in 1889. This midfielder, curiously, was one of the first to join both Barça and Real Madrid, as he lived in both cities for work. during the 10s of the twentieth century. At Barça he played 55 matches from 1911 to 1913. Then he left for Madrid, where for years he appeared as a Pole in the museum of the white club, as his surname is common in Poland. Rositzky, who fought at the front in World War I and also survived World War II, died in Hamburg in 1953. He was a trader who won two Copas del Rey with Barça in those early years of the club’s life. , a period in which he also practiced athletics and water polo in the Catalan capital. At that time, his last name appeared written in different ways, and this helped to believe that he was Polish. Polish researcher Mateusz Wojtylak was one of the first to understand that he was actually German. He found a press clipping from theHerald of Madrid where it was said how King Alfonso XIII “spoke cordially to everyone, including the German amateur player Rositzky, who a few hours later told us in a cheerful voice that the king spoke German better than he did.” In the Barcelona magazine Stadium his name also appeared in 1914. An article about former Barça players at the front during the First World War mentioned him as a German soldier. Finally, it became known that both he and his parents and grandparents were from the Hamburg area, and of Lutheran faith.

Poles inaugurating the Camp Nou

The relationship between Barça and Poland, however, was not born with Lewandowski. The first contact was in 1923, when Krakow made a tour of southern Europe in which he played twice in the field of the Cortes (1-1 and 7-1). The first really special moment was on September 24, 1957, when a selection of the best players from Warsaw was chosen as a rival for the opening match of the Camp Nou. In fact, the coach of the Poles was the same national coach, Henrick Reyman, who summoned some players from other cities to make the team look like the national team, which was preparing a key match against the Soviet Union qualifying for the World Cup. . Barça won 4-2 and the Poles won their match against the Soviets and forced a tiebreaker to decide who would be in the World Cup, in which they fell 2-0.

Since then, Barça have played some official qualifiers against Polish clubs and have never been eliminated. Duels such as the Champions League preliminaries against Wisla in Krakow (2001 and 2008) or the Legia in Warsaw (2002), a Fair Cup qualifier against Katowice (1970) and especially two very tough qualifiers in the Recopa against Lech Poznan (1988, won by Barça on penalties under the snow) and 1989 against Legia.

‘L’estaca’ at the Camp Nou

Another moment of connection was the 1982 World Cup, when thousands of Catalans supported the Polish team during the World Cup, at a time when the country was experiencing riots against the communist authorities, protests led by the Solidarity union, the first free , with a visible figure at the head as Lech Walesa. In the matches of the second phase of the tournament at the Camp Nou, a banner with the name of this union presided over a bleachers in the stadium. At that time, curiously, the Polish protesters had adopted as a hymn a version of The stake by Lluís Llach with a letter in Polish by Jacek Kaczmarski, entitled Walls. It was the best time of Polish football, from 1974 to 1982, when with players like Lato, Deyna or Boniek, Poland reached the semifinals of the World Cup twice. Many of those players were able to go abroad to shine in clubs like Juventus, but despite the fascination they caused in Barcelona, ​​with thousands of people watching their workouts or waiting for them at the hotel where they slept, he had to wait until 2022 to finally have a polish in Barcelona. From players from the east, from Kubala to Stoichkov, Barça had many. Polish, people united to Catalan also in jokes and jokes derogatory words, no.

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