Grzegorz Lato

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Grzegorz Lato
Grzegorz Lato by Slawek.jpg
Grzegorz Lato in 2010
Personal information
Full name Grzegorz Bolesław Lato
Date of birth (1950-04-08) 8 April 1950 (age 64)
Place of birth Malbork, Poland
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position Winger
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1966–1980 Stal Mielec 295 (117)
1980–1982 Lokeren 64 (12)
1982–1984 Atlante 45 (16)
1984–1991 Polonia Hamilton ? (?)
Total 404 (144)
National team
1971–1984 Poland 100 (45)
Teams managed
1988-1990 North York Rockets
1991–1993 Stal Mielec
1993–1995 Olimpia Poznań
1995–1996 Amica Wronki
1996–1997 Stal Mielec
1999 Widzew Łódź
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Grzegorz Bolesław Lato (born 8 April 1950 in Malbork) is a former Polish football striker, and coach. He was the leading scorer at the 1974 World Cup. Lato's playing career coincided with the golden era of Polish football, which began with Olympic gold in Munich in 1972 and ended a decade later with third place at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, a repeat of the Poles' impressive finish in 1974 in Germany. He is the only Polish player ever to win the Golden boot at a World Cup.

From 2001 to 2005 Lato, as a member of Democratic Left Alliance, was a senator in Poland. On 30 October 2008 he was elected President of Polish FA.

Biography[edit]

1974 World Cup[edit]

For Poland, Lato has been capped a record 104 times between 1971 and 1984; he scored 45 goals, which is second-best in national history behind Włodzimierz Lubański. Other than the 1974 World Cup, where he scored seven goals, he also participated in the 1978 and 1982 tournaments. In the 1974 World Cup, he won the Golden Shoe after scoring 7 goals throughout the tournament. In a difficult Group 4, the Poles made an early impression, defeating Argentina by a score of 3–2, with two goals from Lato, the first being scored after just seven minutes of play. Buoyed by that success, Poland then posted the tournament's second largest win with a 7–0 defeat of Haiti (the largest being Yugoslavia's 9–0 demolition of Zaire), with Lato weighing in with another two strikes. In the second round, the Stal Mielec-based striker was even more instrumental, scoring winning goals against Group B rivals Sweden (1–0) and Yugoslavia (2–1). And while even Lato was powerless to prevent an agonising 1–0 defeat by Germany in Frankfurt the in-form marksman was able to propel his team to third place courtesy of the only goal in the play-off victory over Brazil. He was then known as Poland's favorite player. While playing for Poland, he helped them win several titles.

Conclusion of international career[edit]

After a second-round finish at the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina, where Lato scored goals against Tunisia and Brazil, the striker earned another bronze medal in Spain in 1982, where he would record his last strike for his country against Peru. Lato officially retired from international football in April 1984 after collecting his 104th cap against Belgium. He ended his career with the Polish national team with 45 goals – a record that stands to this day – and a total achieved accompanied by an impressive ratio of 0.43 goals per game.[1] Lato had also won the gold medal for Poland at the 1972 Summer Olympics and the silver medal in 1976.

Club career[edit]

Lato spent most of his club career with Stal Mielec and led them to Polish Premier League championships in 1973 and 1976, as well as an appearance in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in the 1975–76 season. He earned the distinction as the league's top goalscorer in 1973 (13 goals) and in 1975 (19 goals). Lato spent most of his career with the club, where he made 272 appearances and scored 111 goals in the Polish Premier League. The Polish league prohibited player transfers abroad until a player reached the age of 30, which hindered Lato's opportunities to display his talent on a regular basis for a larger audience across the continent. Lato had turned down a personal invitation from Pelé to play for the New York Cosmos, and in 1980, he began playing for the Belgian club K.S.C. Lokeren. He had also played in Mexico during the 1982–83 season for Atlante F.C., where he amassed 15 goals. He also spent some time in Canada, playing for Polonia Hamilton in the mid-1980s in an amateur league in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Life after football[edit]

Lato's official portrait as a senator

From 2001 to 2005 Lato, as a member of Democratic Left Alliance, was a senator in Poland. In October 2008 he was elected President of the Polish FA (PZPN). In 2011 he said in an interview, that if Poland isn't promoting Euro 2012 to quarterfinal will hand in his resignation from the position of President of the Polish FA. 19 June 2012 he said he wouldn't hand in his resignation.

Playing style and recognition[edit]

Blessed with remarkable acceleration, the talented right-winger consistently lived up to the high expectations placed before him whenever he was given the opportunity to compete at the international level. Lato was not renowned as crowd pleaser, but rather as a consistent and complete team player. His uncanny awareness on the playing field was ostensibly what allowed him to achieve great success at the international and club levels. Despite his accomplishments at the three World Cup tournaments at which he participated, Lato was not selected by UEFA as one of the European 50 best players, as compiled for its 50th anniversary in 2004. It exemplified the common assertion that Lato is one of the most underrated players in European football history.[2]

Club statistics[edit]

[1]

Club[edit]

Club Season League Total
Apps Goals
Stal Mielec 1969–1970 Ekstraklasa 18 6
1970–1971 Ekstraklasa 11
1971–1972 Ekstraklasa
1972–1973 Ekstraklasa 24 13
1973–1974 Ekstraklasa 13
1974–1975 Ekstraklasa 19
1975–1976 Ekstraklasa 30 14
1976–1977 Ekstraklasa
1977–1978 Ekstraklasa
1978–1979 Ekstraklasa
1979–1980 Ekstraklasa
Total Stal Mielec 295 117
KSC Lokeren 1980–1981 Belgian Pro League 33 6
1981–1982 Belgian Pro League 31 6
Total KSC Lokeren 64 12
Atlante F.C. 1982–1983 Liga MX 36 15
1983–1984 Liga MX 5 1
Total Atlante F.C. 41 16

International goals[edit]

Honors[edit]

Club level[edit]

Stal Mielec[edit]

  • Polish Premier League – 1st place: 1973, 1976
  • Polish Premier League – 2nd place: 1975
  • Polish Premier League – 3rd place: 1974, 1979
  • Polish Cup – 2nd place: 1976
  • UEFA Cup – quarter-finalist: 1975/76

Atlante F.C.[edit]

Individual distinctions[edit]

  • Polish Premier League Top Goalscorer: 1973, 1975
  • Piłka Nożna Player of the Year: 1977
  • Sport Player of the Year: 1974, 1977

International level[edit]

Team accomplishments with Poland[edit]

Individual distinctions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Grzegorz Lato at National-Football-Teams.com

External links[edit]