Wojciech Szczęsny

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Wojciech Szczęsny
Wojciech Szczęsny 2018 (cropped).jpg
Szczęsny playing for Poland at the 2018 FIFA World Cup
Personal information
Full name Wojciech Tomasz Szczęsny[1]
Date of birth (1990-04-18) 18 April 1990 (age 28)[1]
Place of birth Warsaw, Poland
Height 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)[2]
Playing position Goalkeeper
Club information
Current team
Juventus
Number 1
Youth career
2004–2005 Agrykola Warsaw
2005–2006 Legia Warsaw
2006–2009 Arsenal
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2009–2017 Arsenal 132 (0)
2009–2010Brentford (loan) 28 (0)
2015–2017Roma (loan) 72 (0)
2017– Juventus 24 (0)
National team
2007–2010 Poland U20 4 (0)
2009–2012 Poland U21 7 (0)
2009– Poland 39 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 6 October 2018
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 15 October 2018

Wojciech Tomasz Szczęsny ([ˈvɔjt͡ɕɛx ˈʂt͡ʂɛ̃snɨ] (About this sound listen); born 18 April 1990) is a Polish professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Italian club Juventus and the Poland national team.

After starting his club career at Legia Warsaw, Szczęsny signed for Arsenal in 2006, where he made his professional debut in 2009. After a spell on loan with Brentford the following season, he later became the capital club's first choice goalkeeper, winning two FA Cups and being the joint recipient of the 2013–14 Premier League Golden Glove with Petr Čech. He subsequently went on two consecutive season-long loans to Italian club Roma in 2015, where his performances earned him a move to reigning league champions Juventus in 2017. After serving mainly as a back-up to Gianluigi Buffon in his first season, during which he won a domestic double, he inherited the starting spot from the departed Buffon the following season.

At internationl level, Szczęsny has earned more than 30 caps for Poland since his debut in 2009, and was included in the nation's squad as it co-hosted UEFA Euro 2012, also later taking part at UEFA Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Early life[edit]

Szczęsny was born in Warsaw. He is the son of Maciej Szczęsny, who was also a professional goalkeeper, having played for Legia Warszawa, Widzew Łódź, Polonia Warsaw and Wisła Kraków, along with seven games for the Poland national team.

Club career[edit]

Legia Warsaw[edit]

Szczęsny trained at Agrykola Warsaw as a young player; soon, Legia Warsaw's goalkeeping coach, Krzysztof Dowhań, was so impressed with the young keeper, he allowed him to take part in a training camp with Legia's first team at the age of 15, joining them afterwards.[3][4]

Arsenal[edit]

In 2006, Szczęsny joined the Arsenal youth set-up, progressing to the reserve team during the 2008–09 season. In November 2008, he lost his balance while lifting a heavy weight and both his forearms were fractured, causing him to miss five months.[5] Szczęsny appeared on the first team bench for the first time during the Premier League match against Stoke City on 24 May 2009, remaining unused as the team concluded their season with a 4–1 victory at the Emirates Stadium.[6]

At the start of the 2009–10 season, Szczęsny was promoted to the senior squad and given the number 53. On 22 September 2009, he made his first team debut in the Football League Cup third round, keeping a clean sheet in a 2–0 home win against West Bromwich Albion.[7] In December 2009, manager Arsène Wenger revealed that he and the rest of Arsenal's coaching staff had high hopes for Szczęsny, saying, "We have identified Wojciech as a future great, great goalkeeper."[8][9] A month later, he added, "I really believe in him that he will one day be Arsenal's number one. He has all the qualities you want from a goalkeeper."[10][11]

Brentford (loan)[edit]

Wojciech SzczesnyTwitter Verified Badge.svg from Twitter
@13Szczesny13

What a joke! Andy Scott sacked?! He is a fantastic manager and Brentford will pay the price for his sacking I'm afraid.

3 Feb 2011[12]

Wojciech SzczesnyTwitter Verified Badge.svg from Twitter
@13Szczesny13

Just to remind you... Brentford were struggling in League Two when AS took over! He is the only reason why Brentford is in League One!

3 Feb 2011[13]

On 20 November 2009, Szczęsny joined League One team Brentford on a month's loan. He saved a second-half penalty in his second match, a 1–0 loss to Wycombe Wanderers. Szczęsny completed his fifth game for Brentford on 12 December 2009, where he made a number of saves to keep out Leeds United and was given the Man of the Match award.[14] On 22 December, Arsenal agreed to extend the loan for a second month until 17 January 2010,[15] and then until 31 January. Finally, it was extended until 31 May.[16] In April, Brentford manager Andy Scott said, "His performances suggest that he would not be out of place in the Championship or even the Premier League. It has reached the stage where when he lets in a goal we wonder why he hasn't saved it."[17] One year later, after Scott was sacked as Brentford manager, Szczęsny strongly criticized the club on Twitter, and hoped that Scott would not be unemployed for long.[18] In February 2015, Szczęsny was named as Brentford's "Keeper of the Decade" in a club poll.[19]

2010–11[edit]

On 27 October 2010, Szczęsny made his second appearance for Arsenal in the League Cup, keeping a clean sheet against Newcastle United at St James' Park and stopping numerous attempts from Newcastle players.[20] He signed a new long-term contract on 11 November 2010, thanking both his father and his goalkeeping coach Josh Phelan for helping him progress in his breakthrough season.[21][22] Szczęsny made his Premier League debut in the 1–0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford on 13 December 2010, deputising for Łukasz Fabiański and Manuel Almunia, who both missed the match through injury.[23] On 8 January 2011, he started the FA Cup third-round match against Leeds United. The following weekend, Szczęsny kept his first league clean sheet in a 3–0 win over West Ham United at Upton Park.

Wojciech Szczęsny before a match against Chelsea in 2012.

Following Szczęsny's form after playing consecutive Premier League matches, Arsène Wenger confirmed that he would remain Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper, stating, "he's done nothing for me to take him out."[24] On 16 February, Szczęsny made his UEFA Champions League debut against Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium, making saves in a 2–1 victory.[25] On 27 February, Szczęsny let in a last-minute Birmingham City winner in the League Cup Final; a header from Nikola Žigić caused confusion between Szczęsny and defender Laurent Koscielny where the latter pulled out of a clearance at the last minute causing the former to lose control of the ball, which rolled right into the path of Birmingham forward Obafemi Martins, who converted from close range.

2011–12[edit]

In July 2011, Szczęsny expressed his desire to continue as Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper for the rest of his career.[26] He played a half in each of Arsenal's pre-season games on their tour of Malaysia and China. Szczęsny was assigned the number 13 jersey, formerly worn by Alexander Hleb and Jens Lehmann. During the 2011–12 season, he became Arsenal's first-choice goalkeeper, playing every minute of the team's Premier League matches. On 24 August, Szczęsny made a vital penalty save in the 59th minute of play against Antonio Di Natale in the second leg of the Champions League qualifying round. Arsenal were tied 1–1 (2–1 on aggregate) against Udinese and Szczęsny's penalty save proved vital in securing Arsenal a spot in the lucrative group stage of the competition for the 14th-straight season. Arsenal went on to win the game 2–1 (3–1 on aggregate) with goals coming from Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott. On 28 August, he played in the 8–2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford which turned out to be Arsenal's heaviest ever defeat in the Premier League and the first time they conceded eight goals for over 115 years. On 26 February 2012, Szczęsny finished on the winning side in a North London derby for the first time, as Arsenal came from 2–0 down to win 5–2 at home to Tottenham Hotspur.[27] On 3 March 2012, Szczęsny made a number of important saves and blocked an early penalty to help Arsenal win against Liverpool at Anfield.

2012–13[edit]

Following the release of Manuel Almunia, Szczęsny was given the vacated number 1 shirt.[28] After a couple of months out with injury, Szczęsny made his return in the 5–2 win against Tottenham.[29]

On 13 March 2013, Szczęsny was dropped from the Arsenal team to play Bayern Munich in the Champions League.[30] In Arsenal's next Premier League match, against Swansea City, Szczęsny returned to the Arsenal squad but was named only as a substitute, with Łukasz Fabiański selected to start in goal by Arsène Wenger.

On 20 April 2013, Szczęsny returned to the team in a Premier League match at home to Everton due to a rib injury sustained by Fabiański.[31] In his first two matches back in the Arsenal goal, he kept consecutive clean sheets against Everton and Fulham respectively.

2013–14[edit]

Szczęsny warming up during the 2013 Emirates Cup

Szczęsny had a testing time in the opening fixture of the 2013–14 Premier League season, as Arsenal lost 3–1 to Aston Villa. During the match, he conceded a penalty after tripping Gabriel Agbonlahor. Despite the disappointment, Szczęsny responded well by keeping three clean sheets in Arsenal's following four matches. He also made two crucial saves to help preserve Arsenal's 1–0 lead away to Crystal Palace in October,[32] as well as keeping two consecutive clean sheets in vital wins over Liverpool[33] and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.[34] In a November 2013 match against Manchester United, Szczęsny received lengthy treatment following a head-to-head injury with Phil Jones, but finished the game after Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger allowed him to continue. Wenger said he would have substituted for Szczęsny if instructed by the team doctor, but added, "No, nobody told me anything about him," when asked if medical staff had cleared the goalkeeper to play.[35] Tottenham coach André Villas-Boas was heavily criticised the previous week for keeping concussed keeper Hugo Lloris in a match against Everton.[36]

On 16 November 2013, Arsenal announced that Szczęsny had signed a new long-term contract with the club.[37] His excellent form continued throughout November, a month in which he conceded just one goal and kept five clean sheets in six matches. He also recorded his 50th clean sheet for Arsenal on 26 November, in a Champions League match against Marseille which Arsenal won 2–0.[38] Szczęsny conceded a penalty and was sent off in a Champions League match against Bayern Munich in February 2014 for a foul on Arjen Robben. As he left the field, he made an offensive hand gesture. David Alaba missed the penalty, but Arsenal lost the match 2–0.[39] In the process, Szczęsny became the 100th player sent off during Arsène Wenger's reign at Arsenal.[40]

At the end of the season, Szczęsny was jointly award the Premier League Golden Glove award alongside Petr Čech of Chelsea, with both keeping 16 clean sheets.[41] He also ended the season by winning his first senior trophy with Arsenal, the 2013–14 FA Cup, but was only a substitute in the final itself, with Łukasz Fabiański retaining his place as first choice goalkeeper for domestic cup competitions.

2014–15[edit]

Szczęsny conceded a penalty and was sent off in a 4–1 Champions League home win against Galatasaray on 1 October 2014 for a professional foul on Burak Yılmaz.[42]

On 1 January 2015, Szczęsny made errors leading to both goals in Arsenal's 2–0 defeat at Southampton. He was later fined £20,000 by the club for smoking in the changing room showers after the match.[43] He was dropped to the bench for the rest of the Premier League season, with David Ospina replacing him in goal.[44] Szczęsny was selected to start in the 2015 FA Cup Final, keeping a clean sheet in a 4–0 victory over Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium.[45]

Roma (loan)[edit]

On 29 July 2015, with his opportunities further limited by Arsenal's signing of Petr Čech earlier that summer, Szczęsny joined Roma on a season-long loan.[46][47] He made his Serie A debut on 22 August in a 1–1 draw at Hellas Verona.[48] Szczęsny dislocated a finger during Roma's opening Champions League match against Barcelona after clashing with Luis Suárez, an injury that kept him out for six weeks.[49][50] In December, he was dropped for Morgan De Sanctis for a league game against Atalanta after again being caught smoking following a 6–1 loss to Barcelona.[51] In total, he made 31 league appearances throughout the season, as Roma finished the 2015–16 season with a third place in the league, clinching the last available Champions League qualifying spot. In an interview with Il Tempo newspaper, Szczęsny stated that he felt that his season with Roma had been positive, and credited his experience training and playing in Italy under manager Luciano Spalletti and goalkeeper coach Nanni as being extremely beneficial to his development.[52][53]

A second season-long loan to Roma was agreed by Arsenal, ahead of the 2016–17 season.[54] In his second season in the Italian capital, Szczęsny kept the most clean sheets in Serie A (14), helping Roma to set a club seasonal record of 87 points, and earn a second-place finish in the league. In total, he made 72 appearances in Serie A over the course of his two seasons with Roma.[52][55][56]

Juventus[edit]

2017–18[edit]

On 19 July 2017, Szczęsny was signed by Juventus for a €12.2 million initial fee (plus an additional €3.1m in conditional bonuses) on a four-year contract.[57][58] Although it was reported that Szczęsny would initially serve as a back-up to Gianluigi Buffon under manager Massimiliano Allegri, the latter goalkeeper's intention to retire at the end of the 2017–18 season saw Szczęsny labelled as a potential long-term replacement for Buffon in the media.[55] On 9 September 2017, Szczęsny made his first appearance for Juventus, achieving a clean sheet as he started in their third match of the season, a 3–0 home win over Chievo in Serie A.[59] Following Juventus's 1–0 away victory against fellow title contenders Napoli on 1 December,[60] the club's first-choice goalkeeper Buffon was ruled out of Juventus's final Champions League group match against Olympiacos four days later, after picking up a calf strain in the previous match, an injury which kept him sidelined for the rest of the month;[61] Szczęsny replaced him in goal during the 2–0 away win, which saw him make his club debut in the Champions League, and the result secured Juventus a second-place finish in their group behind Barcelona, and a place in the knockout stages of the competition.[62] His performances throughout Buffon's absence saw him named the club's player of the month for December 2017.[63][64] On 9 May, Szczęsny won his first trophy with Juventus in a 4–0 win over Milan in the 2018 Coppa Italia Final; he was an unused substitute.[65][66] Four days later, on 13 May, Szczęsny won the Scudetto, after keeping a clean sheet in a 0–0 draw with his former team Roma, in Juventus' penultimate match of the season.[67][68]

2018–19[edit]

Following Buffon's departure from the club after the conclusion of the 2017–18 season, Szczęsny inherited the number 1 shirt and the starting goalkeeper spot at Juventus ahead of the 2018–19 season.[69]

International career[edit]

Szczęsny (left) with Jakub Błaszczykowski before an international friendly against the Republic of Ireland

Under-21[edit]

Szczęsny played for Poland's under-21 team and started in three 2011 European Championship qualifying matches. He was also placed on stand-by for the Polish senior team by manager Leo Beenhakker for the team's World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Slovenia in early September 2009. Since none of Poland's top three goalkeepers dropped out, however, he was not called up and instead played the U-21 qualifiers against Spain and Finland. He has a total of six caps for the U-21 squad.[citation needed]

Senior team[edit]

In October 2009, new manager Franciszek Smuda sent Szczęsny his first call up to the full national side, for the friendly matches against Romania and Canada.[3] He made his debut against Canada on 18 November, coming on as a half-time substitute for Tomasz Kuszczak in a 1–0 victory at the Zdzislawa Krzyszkowiaka Stadium in Bydgoszcz.[70] He earned his second cap and his first full match on 9 February 2011, in another friendly win of the same score, against Norway at the Estádio Algarve.[citation needed]

Szczęsny had a strong performance against Germany on 6 September 2011, making eight critical saves in a 2–2 draw; this earned him praise from former German international goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.[71][72] He was sent off in the opening game of Poland's co-hosting of UEFA Euro 2012 against Greece, for a professional foul on Dimitris Salpingidis, costing Poland a penalty which was saved by Przemysław Tytoń in a 1–1 draw.[73] Szczęsny failed to play again for the rest of the tournament as Tytoń played the remainder as Poland finished bottom of Group A with two points.[citation needed]

On 12 October 2014, Szczęsny was pivotal in securing his country's historic first victory over Germany in a Euro 2016 qualifier. He played in his nation's opening game of the tournament against Northern Ireland. He kept a clean sheet in his nation's first ever win at a European Championship, but suffered an injury, which kept him out of the rest of their campaign. Poland nonetheless made it to the quarter-finals, with former Arsenal teammate Łukasz Fabiański in goal.[citation needed]

Szczęsny was called up to the 23-man Polish squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.[74] He started in his nation's first two group matches, a 2–1 defeat against Senegal and 3–0 defeat to Colombia, but did not feature in his team's final group match – a 1–0 victory over Japan; Poland failed to qualify for the knockout phase.[75]

Personal life[edit]

In 2013 he started dating Polish singer Marina Łuczenko.[76] They got engaged on early July 2015 during her birthday party,[77] and married on 21 May 2016.[78] On 30 June 2018, she gave birth to their son named Liam.[79]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of match played 6 October 2018[80]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League Domestic Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Arsenal 2009–10 Premier League 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Brentford (loan) 2009–10 League One 28 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 28 0
Arsenal 2010–11 Premier League 15 0 2 0 5 0 2 0 0 0 24 0
2011–12 38 0 1 0 0 0 9 0 0 0 48 0
2012–13 25 0 4 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 33 0
2013–14 37 0 0 0 0 0 9 0 0 0 46 0
2014–15 17 0 5 0 0 0 6 0 1 0 29 0
Total 132 0 12 0 7 0 29 0 1 0 181 0
Roma (loan) 2015–16 Serie A 34 0 0 0 8 0 0 0 42 0
2016–17 38 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 39 0
Total 72 0 0 0 9 0 0 0 81 0
Juventus 2017–18 Serie A 17 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 21 0
2018–19 7 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 9 0
Total 24 0 2 0 4 0 0 0 30 0
Career total 256 0 14 0 7 0 42 0 1 0 320 0

International[edit]

As of match played 14 October 2018[81]
National team Year Apps Goals
Poland 2009 1 0
2010 0 0
2011 6 0
2012 5 0
2013 4 0
2014 6 0
2015 2 0
2016 4 0
2017 4 0
2018 7 0
Total 39 0

Honours[edit]

Arsenal

Juventus[84]

Individual

(*shared with Petr Čech)

References[edit]

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