LONDON: Jan Tomaszewski is resigned to the belief that Southampton keeper Artur Boruc cannot stop England reaching the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.
England need to beat Poland at Wembley tonight to secure their ticket – just as they had to, and failed, against a Tomaszewski-inspired Polish team 40 years ago in 1973.
Tomaszewski said: “Artur is one of the best keepers in the world. But can he stop England on his own? No. I made mistakes in 1973, but my team-mates saved us. Our defence isn’t so good now. Artur must rely on himself.”
On his first visit to Wembley, Tomaszewski was famously dubbed a “clown” before kick-off by Brian Clough, but made a series of superb saves as Poland clinched a 1-1 draw that saw them qualify at England’s expense.
At the finals in West Germany the following year, Tomaszewski, then 26, saved two penalties and his nation beat Brazil in the third-place play-off in their joint-best showing in the tournament.
Poland are no longer in contention to make the 2014 finals, but with top-class players in Borussia Dortmund duo Robert Lewandowski and captain Jakub Blaszczykowski, they still pose a threat as England bid for the victory that would guarantee a place in Brazil next summer.
Tomaszewski, now 65 and a politician in Poland, added: “I wish there was more riding on it for Poland so it was a big game for both of us. But we still need to perform well at Wembley because we are building a team for Euro 2016. A good performance would really motivate us.
“There is no pressure on Poland and England will be very stressed because they have to win, otherwise their supporters won’t forgive them. If England don’t win, Poland will be famous again.”
England manager Roy Hodgson has acknowledged that he would worry right through to the final whistle despite having every confidence in his team, particularly after the manner of last Friday’s 4-1 home win over Montenegro.
He said: “I’m a worrier. Anyone who works in football is a worrier but I have great faith and trust in the players. I couldn’t be putting a stronger or more confident bunch of players onto the field. But football is not a science. Things can happen in games you don’t want to happen.”
Hodgson was in South Africa in 1973 when England took on Poland in a game they needed to win to reach the World Cup but only drew.
He recalled: “I was preparing to come home. I was going to get on the train to Cape Town, then a boat from there to Southampton. There was no television in South Africa at that time.”
Hodgson’s one specific team choice concerns whether Phil Jones and Chris Smalling steps up as replacement for suspended Kyle Walker at rightback.