Auf wiedersehen Piszczek, a gift that keeps on giving
By Akhil Fisher @akhil_fisher
Lukas Piszczek bids farewell to the Bundesliga at the end of the 2020/21 season.
|Lukasz Piszczek.||Photo: Tim Reckmann, CC BY-SA 2.0|
The Black & Yellow will call a close to his club career at the highest level, as he plans to return to LKS Goczalkowice – his childhood club.
The astoundingly versatile & talented Polish international’s 20-year football career is nothing short of wonderful. Piszczek began as a striker with Gwarek Zabrze, a youth football development-focused club in Zabrze, an industrial city near the Czech Republic border.
He went on to achieve leaps & bounds with his attacking prowess during his time there – breaking goalscoring records and winning the 2003 Polish Youth Championship.
Perhaps, his biggest break arrived in 2004 with the UEFA European U19 Championship, where he ended up being the joint topscorer along with Turkey’s Ali Öztürk.
Hertha Berlin scouts were immensely attracted to his style of play but were
nonetheless sceptical in immediately offering first-team to a promising 19-year-old
Lukas. A loan move to Zaglebie Lubin prevailed.
The Ekstraklasa team proved to be a successful stepping ground for the budding youngster. He often excelled as a left winger in an attacking 4-3-3 formation – scoring 11 goals, just four behind Lech Poznan legend Piotr Reiss & playing a key role in Lubin’s 2006/07 Polish championship winning season.
His versatility to play as an inverted left winger with his effective right foot caught the eyes of several top clubs, but Hertha eagerly recalled him from his three-year loan stint in the Polish top tier. Piszczek continued to star in the winger position for Hertha in his first Bundesliga season.
His current right-back playing days began back in his second season with Hertha in 2008/09, when the equally versatile right-back Arne Friedrich, who now functions as
Hertha’s sporting director, was injured. Lucien Favre, Dortmund’s coach from 2018 to 2020, was the one to push Piszczek into being comfortable in the backline – in the right-back role. His successor, Friedhelm Funkel continued Favre’s positioning of Piszczek the following season.
However, nothing could save the capital club from relegation as they came last in the league standings, behind VfL Bochum & FC Nuremburg.
His free transfer to Dortmund on 19 May, 2010, didn’t come as a surprise for many. Sven Mislintat, VfB Sttutgart’s sporting director, then served as a chief scout & later as the director within the Die Schwarzengleben staff – a position where Mislintat excelled without a shadow of a doubt, playing a key role in the development of world-class footballers such as Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Christian Pulisic among others, including Lukas Piszczek.
The young Polish player had found a fresh position within his portfolio and immediately impressed Jurgen Klopp, going on to etch his role for the next ten years within the club.
The now 35-year-old Piszczek has gone on to appear almost 400 times in the Black & Yellow colours. A majestic presence in Westfalenstadion.
Piszczek expressed his sadness of having to leave Dortmund at the end of the season.
"You guys don't realise how knackered I am. I'll return to Poland and just for fun, play for my old club LKS Goczalkowice. It would be nothing more to do with professional football - I will only keep myself fit there," he said.
Goczałkowice-Zdrój is a tiny village in the Silesia province in southern Poland, approximately 375 kilometers southeast of Warsaw and close to the Czech Republic border.
Last year, he said: “I have concrete plans in Poland and have already postponed these plans for a year. I want to play with friends from my hometown club, where my father is vice-president, and take care of the youth academy that we started in 2019.”
The Polish veteran’s retirement plans will involve setting up & managing the Lukas Piszczek academy in partnership with Dortmund. His plans started in 2017, when he commented at the official presentation of the academy: "I grew up here, this is where I developed into the man I am today, which is why I wanted to give something back. We've put a lot of work into it, a lot of passion. It's been worth it."
His intent of providing young talents a podium to grow and showcase their skills attracted the backing of Borussia Dortmund.
In an interview with the Polish sports paper Przeglad Sportowy (via Der Westen), Dortmund’s marketing chief Carsten Cramer exclaimed: "Lukasz is a living legend of Borussia Dortmund. That underlines his style of play and his identification. He is not a man of great words, but great deeds - an extraordinary person,” confirming the club’s plans to actively support the project.
The Piszczek Academy Foundation has invested nearly 8.9m PLN (approximately €2m) of which half is co-financed by the Polish Ministry of Sport and Tourism.
He initially planned to hang up his boots at the end of last season, but ended up signing a one-year extension.
Having largely been relegated to the bench in order to make way for others, Piszczek will end his 14th Bundesliga season after starting his career in the German top-flight as a up & coming youngster with Hertha Berlin.
Piszczek will leave Dortmund with 2 Bundesliga titles, 2 DFL-Supercups & 2 DFB-Pokals, with a potential third DFB Cup at the end of the season as they face RB Leipzig in the semi-finals next.
His legacy as a legendary part of the Polish trio – along with Robert Lewandowski & Kuba Błaszczykowski will not be forgotten anytime soon by the BVB faithful.
And now it only looks likely his academy will play a significant part in the development of upcoming Polish prodigies, who may well end up as Bundesliga stars themselves.