Fabianski's story: Where it all began

12th July

As recent signing Lukasz Fabianski gets to know his team-mates on the club's pre-season training camp in America, we caught up with the goalkeeper to get the low-down on his time growing up on the streets of Poland to a new life at the Liberty.
In the first of a three-part series, Fabianski takes us back to his childhood where the draw of the football - and a little luck - eventually stole his heart away from table tennis and his beloved basketball.

"I'm from Słubice on the far west side of Poland, on the border with Germany. Until after the Second World War, in 1945, Słubice was actually in Germany, a part of Frankfurt which is on the other side of the river. 
"After the War there was tension between us and Frankfurt, but now it's much friendlier. People can live one side of the border and get a bus to the other side to work which wouldn't have been possible 10 or 15 years ago. 
"Słubice is surrounded by lakes and during the summer we'd ride out to them and go swimming. We also had a lot of fun playing football and basketball and sometimes we'd go to the open-air pool. 
"To be honest, we had friends but during the summer it just used to be me, Bartek (my older brother) and Arek (my younger brother).
"Our street was new, with new houses, but the road itself hadn't been finished. There was no tarmac on it, just dirt. We were the youngest kids on our street and I remember playing football outside with older boys, diving around and getting stones and asphalt in our knees all the time. 
"That's my first football memory. A bit later, we moved our games to a little grassed area behind our house, alongside allotments. We made a proper pitch with goals out of bits of wood and some netting in one of the goals. Beside the pitch, we had a place for a bonfire where we could cook sausages and potatoes. We could be out there the whole day.
"I was always a goalkeeper. When I was eight or nine it was the World Cup in the USA. The Italians had a goalkeeper named Gianluca Pagliuca who was a bit of a showman kissing the ball and everything. I watched him and just wanted to be him!
"One of the older boys, Krzysiek, who played in the street with us, was already a goalkeeper at our local club and did some training with me. And I was lucky because my uncle was my PE teacher at school and he did a lot of gymnastics with us; volleyball, basketball and athletics. My uncle really pushed me. He pushed all of us and his approach and character had a real impact on me.
"When I was young, I played for the table tennis team in Słubice. But when I was about 12, they disbanded the team because they couldn't fund it anymore and the coach moved away. But right around the same time Krzysiek told me about a six-a-side tournament that was being organised by a teacher at a local school. So we got a team together from our school and went. 
"That teacher was also the coach at my local football club. After the tournament he took 15 players to play against boys from Victoria, the club in Frankfurt. I was selected and we beat them 4-0. 
"That was really my first proper game as a goalkeeper for what became my first club, Polonia Słubice. It was a sort of trial game, I suppose, because Polonia were starting a new youth team. The coach didn't say anything afterwards but then one day, when I was out at the shops with my mum, he came up to us and said he'd like me to come and train at the club. I was really excited and that's how it all started for me.
"It's amazing to think that, if the table tennis team hadn't been disbanded, I might never have gone to the six-a-side tournament. If there had been a basketball team in Słubice, I'd probably have played for that team instead. I loved basketball when I was young; and I still do. 
"But, of course, once I started playing football seriously with training, matches and tournaments, that was it! It was crazy from then on.''

*Thanks to Tom Watt for his assistance.

Look out tomorrow for the second installment in our three-part series.