THE BIG INTERVIEW: Lukasz Fabianski

20th December

Not for the first time, Lukasz Fabianski will be hoping to book his seat on a plane to the European Championships next summer.

Following a 2-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland in their final qualification group match, Poland guaranteed their spot in the Euro 2016 Finals, where they have been drawn alongside Germany, Ukraine and Northern Ireland in Group C.

Though the 29-year-old is no international rookie - he was part of Poland's squad at two major finals in the 2006 World Cup as well as Euro 2008 - the 2016 Championships could prove a landmark moment for the former Arsenal goalkeeper, who is yet to make an appearance at a major tournament.

"It could be, but I want to do well for the club first, which will then help me for the Euros," Fabianski smiles in his typically understated manner. "It is an exciting thought, but I'm not trying to think about it right now. 

"My focus is really on Swansea and my form. I want to be an important part of this team and help us get out of this little slump. I'm sure we will finish the season well, which will help me going into the Euros. We will see what happens after that."

His decision to focus on Swansea has proved a shrewd one. Since his arrival from Arsenal during the summer of 2014, Fabianski has reaped the rewards of regular first-team football with the Swans.

It is a move that has paid off for both parties as the 30-year-old shot stopper was named Swansea's Players' Player of the Year last season on the back of a stunning maiden campaign in South Wales.

That form, which included 11 clean sheets during last season's Barclays Premier League campaign, has led to the former Legia Warsaw goalkeeper ousting his former team-mate Wojciech Szczesny and Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc as Poland's first-choice stopper.

"As a sportsman, you always make decisions on what you want to achieve in your life and it was always in the back of my mind that making the decision would help me to compete for the Poland spot," says Fabianski.

"It wasn't the main reason I joined but it's always nice to be representing your country and to be rewarded for good performances with your club."

After such a successful first season in South Wales, in which he was a key figure in helping the Swans secure their highest-ever finish and points total in the Premier League, Fabianski's second campaign with the club hasn't been such a smooth ride.

"It is a different experience for me and it's a challenge for sure," reflects the Swansea number one. "In a way, it makes it even more exciting, if you know what I mean?

"I'm obviously up for the challenge and I will always do my best for this club. When you look at the group of people here and the way that we work, we are much better than what we have shown recently.

"Confidence is always connected with results. After a run of bad results, your confidence is knocked. We just need to stay strong and continue to believe in each other."

Swansea's recent run of form eventually led to the reluctant parting of company with manager and outstanding servant of 12 years, Garry Monk.

And whilst acknowledging the difficult period the club are currently enduring, Fabianski reflects on his first year in South Wales with a hugely positive outlook and insists that Swansea's recent difficulties will only make them stronger in the long run.

"I do really enjoy it here," he adds. "It's been a difficult period for us, so the mood isn't how we want it to be, but in general it has been a great time for me. 

"We will turn things around and pick up the points that we really need to get back on the right track. These periods are for players to step up and show our character even more and come out stronger. It will help us grow as a team.

"I have always approached football and training the same way. I focus on my work and continue to work hard, that's the main thing for me. I believe that once you get things right on the training ground, it has to pay off for you sooner or later. I believe in a hard work ethic, and that it will give something back to you."

Following the departure of goalkeeping coach Javi Garcia, who returned to Spain after a successful one-year spell with the Swans in the summer, this season could have proved a period of transition for Fabianski.

But with the arrival of former Arsenal goalkeeping coach Tony Roberts, a man Fabianski had previously worked with, Swansea's number one already knew he was in safe hands with Garcia's replacement.

"For me, it has been an easy transition because I knew Tony from before," reflects Fabianski. "He's all about working hard and putting the right things into training. He has that modern approach, which is quite similar to what Javi had.

"The outcome is the same - you can change the exercises, but he has the same idea as Javi. They have their differences, of course, but Tony has the same expectations, which he aims to achieve in his own way.

"We are happy with the way we are working and the transition has been good. If you ask people around the club, they will all tell you that he has been a positive addition. He's a big character and very positive."

Away from football, Fabianski is enjoying a quiet life in his home in South Wales - a beautifully picturesque location on the Gower peninsula, which is reminiscent of his hometown Slubice, a border town in western Poland.

"I really like the calmness and the surroundings of Swansea," reflects the humble goalkeeper. "The pace of life is slower, which is what I like.

"It reminds me of living in my hometown in Poland. I am from a small town, which is a little bit in the countryside. It is very similar.

"There is a lot of wildlife here. Every day when I drive into the training ground, I have to pass by different animals.

"I've been blocked off quite often. There is a farm close to where I live. Almost every morning there are animals roaming fields, so you have to be careful. I'm lucky though because I only live about ten minutes from the training ground!"