25 sie 2012

Pawłowski's refusal is one bold move too far

Wojciech Pawłowski is yet another fine goalkeeping talent Poland has produced. Coming through youth ranks in Koszalin, being recruited by Lechia Gdansk and then making an instant breakthrough to the first team - capping sixteen full-time appearances in Ekstraklasa last season was enough to attract Serie A contenders, Udinese. 

Now, just few months into his contract and less than a year since he made his debut in Polish top tier, Pawłowski is just stirring yet another controversy, boldly refusing to play for U21 national team side, claiming that he is ready only to turn up when Waldemar Fornalik will decide to call him up. 

This is just weeks after video of him compromising in front of Italian club's camera in an interview given by him in English. Showing almost zero knowledge of the language, he failed to give any reasonable or understandable answer for even the easiest questions. Video was put on YouTube channel and quickly picked up in his home country, making rounds and claiming 700,000 clicks in just few days. Pawłowski has become an object of jokes and laugh, something that surely frustrated young keeper.

Nonetheless, he did deserve it. Rarely we see such young characters coming into senior football so strongly, with something to say - not really something wise or interesting - yet standing out of the crowd. In that term, Pawłowski's stubbornness is one of his highlights.

There are stories of him giving himself a day off in training at Lechia, only because he didn't feel like convincing anyone that he should be number one for next weekend. Provoking rivals - shouting to their ears, laughing out their skills, abusing and attacking them - all of that had happened during his rather short spell in Ekstraklasa. 

After 0-0 draw with Korona Kielce, last season's revelation, he gave an interview in which he claimed that Leszek Ojrzyński's men are using tactics suitable to fourth league, not Polish top tier. Then the story from Lechia's dressing room came out, that he was beaten by goalkeepers' coach after heated discussion after one of the games. 

Admirably, Pawlowski's early career at Udinese looks much better on the pitch than it is in front of TV cameras. He better keeps his goal than holds his nerves, showing quality in pre-season friendlies with few wonder interventions, also saving penalty in one of the last games.

He is one of the brightest talents, yet still only number two at his club - at best. Of course, Poland is as famous of great goalkeepers as they are known from their craziness, controversies. Jan Tomaszewski is known for this up to this day, while Artur Boruc is never short of a problem himself. 

But what makes a difference between them and Pawłowski is that they proved their class on the pitch first and only then went on to be big-mouthed, full of controversies personalities, stand out characters in the game. While current Udinese goalie still has to prove his worth even at club level, he shouldn't have any doubts over participation and gaining experience from international football - even for U21 duty. Especially when games come less often than controversial appearances in domestic or foreign media.

In every interview he gave, Pawłowski refuses to be judged as talent overtaken by quickly earned money and fame. In one of them he claimed to be the only one who knows what is the best for him - and this was back in Gdansk, where he was sent for reserves for, as he says, giving Lechia some recognition by signing pre-contract with Udinese.

So far, he may be right - despite all the problems he caused, controversies he has involved himself in, he may have a point after all - not every teenager is given a contract by one of top Italian sides. But there is a thin line between doing it own way and choosing the right turns on rough ride that every professional career is. Making himself unavailable for future U21 international duty is a bold move that can mean only one thing - Pawłowski's stubbornness got him finally lost. Not that he wasn't asking himself for it, mind.

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