By Chris Reiko Follow @@ChrisReiko
After spending 17 years of his life in Major League Soccer as a player, assistant coach, and recently as a head coach, former Columbus Crew manager Robert Warzycha starting new career in Europe. From tomorrow Bob Bradley is not going to be the only former MLS coach, managing European team.
50 years old, Robert Warzycha today will sign the contract, and later will be officially announced as a head coach of Górnik Zabrze, big club with huge traditions in Polish Premier League, called Ekstraklasa.
Warzycha, a real Columbus Crew legend, has been associated with 644 out of 655 games during 17 years career in Ohio club. His knowledge, scouting skills, recognition of talent, and of course world wide contacts represent value, but he’s leaving MLS and USA.
“I had some offers or advanced talks, but coaching in Europe, was always on my mind. Having opportunity coaching in my home country Poland, especially in the club where I had so much success, I simply cannot refuse. I love Zabrze, this town has always been in my hearth, because I spent 6 years of my life there, and I had the most successful time as player. Old good days.” – says Warzycha. With Górnik Zabrze, he has won two Championship Titles in Ekstraklasa, and during that time, also 47 times played for Polish National team, including some as a captain.
For over 3 years he played for Everton in English Premier League. He’s still the only Polish player, that scored in English Premier League, and what a goal it was. Against Manchester United, at Old Trafford, with a world class goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.
Currently, there is not much competition among Polish coaches, and Robert Warzycha without a doubt, should be one of the best in the business out there. Some experts in Poland, are very optimistic about Warzycha coming to coach there. Few already stating that Górnik Zabrze is just a first step, and one day, he would take over Polish National Team, and he’s not shy about that dream.
“Every single coach on the world, not admitting that coaching national team is not his dream, is simply not telling the true. I’m maybe not completely ready yet, but of course like every coach in this business, one day I would love to have a opportunity to coach national team of Poland, team that I played for. I hope that future will work, and my coming time in Górnik Zabrze, could be a good step forward in my coaching career, I’m very excited about my new job, thankful for the opportunity, and ready for the challenge” – said Robert Warzycha before departure to Poland.
In fact, Górnik Zabrze was also last club of current Polish National Team head coach Adam Nawałka.
Warzycha’s new club is currently on the 5th place in Ekstraklasa. Górnik Zabrze it’s a big brand in Poland, with long traditions. No need to say more, Górnik Zabrze 14 times have won the Championship Title, including two with Robert Warzycha as player in 1987 and 1988. That’s national record, Górnik holds together, with one of their biggest enemy Ruch Chorzów.
The biggest success in European football, Górnik had in 1970 when they went to UEFA Cup Winners final. They lost to Manchester City in Vienna, but at the time impressed entire Europe.
“It’s hard to believe, that he’s not employed by any MLS club, by now. He’s rock solid, good coach, knows everything about the game, knows MLS system, great personality. He’s a really good man for that job” – said Philadelphia Union CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz, also one of the MLS originals.
Warzycha played seven years for the Crew, scored 19 goals (including some spectacular ones) and still has the all-time assists record for the club 61. He’s always thankful for the Columbus community. “This town is like my family” – said to me once, after emotional discussion about his son, and what the club, and people of Columbus did for him.
In 1998, it was Warzycha’s third year in Columbus. His younger son Bartek, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 8. The Crew fans raised over $60,000 for Bartek’s treatment. “We will never forget that” – said Robert Warzycha.
The moment changed the course of the Warzycha’s family. Rather than heading back to Europe, both Robert and his wife Eliza became U.S. citizens, and decided to stay in Columbus. All three of Warzycha’s children Olivia, Bartek and Konrad played soccer since they been able to walk. Konrad joined Sporting Kansas City trough 2011 MLS Superdraft, after a four year career at Ohio State. Not clear as of yet if Konrad will go to Poland, following his dad, but the Crew under new coach Greg Berhalter waived him, and is free to go.
Good luck to Robert in Poland, sad to see quality man leaving MLS and U.S., but I gotta feeling that one day, we will see him back on one of the MLS benches. The question is, when?
You can contact author via email ChrisReiko@Hotmail.com, or Follow @@ChrisReiko
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