POLAND’S famous “clown” goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski does not expect his fellow countrymen to repeat the heroics of his team in 1973 in tomorrow’s crucial World Cup qualifier.
Tomaszewski was cruelly derided by Brian Clough prior to the famous Wembley clash with England almost 40 years ago, only to ram the words down the outspoken manager’s throat with a man-of-the-match performance in a 1-1 draw that cost England a World Cup place and Sir Alf Ramsey his job.
Poland find themselves in a similar position in the current qualifying campaign. Although they cannot profit at England’s expense this time around, should they deny the hosts victory again it will almost certainly cost Roy Hodgson’s team an automatic place at next summer’s finals in Brazil.
With undoubted world-class talent such as Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski in their squad, they clearly have the talent to cause Hodgson a few headaches.
However, they lack the all-round balance needed to be a major force on the international stage again and Tomaszewski feels England will confirm their superiority.
“There is no pressure on Poland and England will be very stressed because they have to win, otherwise their supporters won’t forgive them,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme.
“To win this game would be like gaining a football Oscar for Poland. We already have some world-class players and if the rest of the team get a miracle at Wembley they will be regarded like that as well.
“If England don’t win, Poland will be famous again. But England are the favourites, as they were in 1973, and this time I think they will win, 3-1.”
Now 65, Tomaszewski will always be known as the man who proved Clough wrong.
To underline his ability, he went on to earn the goalkeeper of the tournament accolade at the subsequent World Cup finals in West Germany. However, even he admits much of the confidence to achieve that status came from the night he repelled what he regarded as a great England team.
“I am convinced if England had won that match they would have been in the final in 1974,” he said. “We were tiny footballers from Poland, playing one of the biggest teams in the world and showed everything was possible in football.
“We came to Wembley as ugly ducklings and we left as football swans. We fought like the Three Musketeers. All for one and one for all.
“It was the biggest thing that happened in Polish football.”