Dudek: Poland is beautiful and unique

Jerzy Dudek, the legendary Polish goalkeeper and ex-Concordia Knurow, Sokol Tychy, Feyenoord, Liverpool and Real Madrid stopper, has his fingers crossed for the youngsters who will be appearing at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019. The keeper, who became famous for the 'Dudek Dance' in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul, where he went on to save two AC Milan penalties, is banking on one of the goalkeepers at the U-20 tournament following suit.

The former international, capped 60 times by his country, spoke to FIFA.com about the upcoming tournament, his affection for Tychy, the story behind his disbelieving cousin and his packed upcoming schedule.

With kick-off in Poland just over a week away, Dudek is convinced it is worth attending in his homeland as there will be plenty to see both on and off the pitch.

“Whenever I say this, it sums Poland up: I’ve lived in Rotterdam, Liverpool and Madrid; after my career I could’ve lived anywhere in the world. But where do I live? In Krakow! Poland is beautiful and unique.

"We enjoy four seasons; the people are amazing and the country is flourishing. I know people looking in from the outside are subjected to stereotypes: Poland is just one of those countries in Eastern Europe, etc. But when they come here, they’re swept off their feet. That’s happened to a lot of my friends from abroad. None of them left disappointed, not one! I think it’ll be the same for those coming to watch the U-20 World Cup.”

First and foremost, Dudek is known throughout the football world for the 'Dudek Dance' and the way he shimmied along his line during that penalty shoot-out against Milan.

His unusual approach went down in footballing history. Would he like to see something similar during the tournament?

“It’d be really nice if we found somebody to emulate me! But, of course, every keeper has their own character, their own personality. It must suit the player and their personality, someone who wants to make their mark.

"I always say that during a penalty shoot-out, the goalkeeper has the upper hand because the pressure is on the taker. And if there’s something you can do to give yourself an edge, then it makes sense to do it. The 'Dudek Dance' really helped me. If it helps someone at Poland 2019, then that would be great.”

Tychy will play host to several matches at the U-20 World Cup, and it was there while playing for Sokol Tychy that Dudek made his debut in the Polish top-flight.

“It’s beautiful there now, they’ve got a brand-new ground and will host some U-20 World Cup matches. It’s a shame that it wasn’t like that when I was there. Anyway, I’ve nothing but fond memories from my time in Tychy. I remember everyone advised me not to move to Sokol Tychy.

"The team were bottom of the league midway into the season and staring relegation in the face. However, the coach at that time, Boguslaw Kaczmarek, was someone who put his faith in young players, so I felt I’d made a good decision.

"I was only there for six months, then I moved onto Feyenoord, but I remember those couple of months really well. That’s where I learnt my trade as a player and I hope during this competition, in Tychy especially, we’ll see some new stars emerge.”

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