The legendary English coach Bill Shankly once said that football isn’t a matter of life and death. It’s much more serious than that. For our colleague Damian, the production manager of aluminum, football might not be a matter of life and death, but it’s certainly an important aspect of life. He could talk about it for hours. You won’t find a bigger football enthusiast in Bertrand.

 

The football bug was implanted in me by my father, a local club activist. He had a group of friends with whom he used to go to various football matches in Poland. The first match he took me to was a UEFA Cup match in Lubin, where the local team Zagłębie faced the legendary Italian Milan. I remember the match itself as if through a fog, but the trip, the whole atmosphere, it all made a huge impression on me, – Damian says.

 

He got deeply involved in going to matches. As soon as he moved to England, he went wherever he could, visiting various stadiums. – I’ve been to Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea plays. It was a tremendous experience. I’ve been to Manchester City’s stadium when they played against Lech Poznań. At the atmospheric Luton stadium, where incidentally I lived right nearby. At Tottenham’s new stadium, which is cosmic. But the biggest impression was made on me by Wembley, – he says. – People spend their time differently, they go fishing, they travel. I love visiting stadiums. I’d like to see Old Trafford someday, and to go to the Milan Derby.

 

 

From the stands, he saw plenty of top teams. But two that deeply entrenched themselves in his heart are Barcelona and… Wisła Kraków. – I fell in love with Barcelona when Luis Figo joined them, a player I loved to watch. Although I had the nickname ‘Hagi’ in the neighborhood, after the great Romanian footballer who also played there. I was small, chubby, and that’s how they started calling me. And it stuck to this day, – Damian laughs. – Wisła is my second love. I admired them during the Bogusław Cupiał era, I mean that team with Żurawski, Frankowski, Kosowski, Gorawski. I remember Grzegorz Pater’s fantastic performance against Barcelona. To this day, Wisła is the only team that beat Barça in Guardiola’s era when that team, winning the Champions League, couldn’t be beaten by anyone.

 

He tried to get his future wife into supporting football. They went together to a Tottenham match against Wisła Kraków. – When we were riding the metro, the whole train was filled with Tottenham fans. Only me in the White Star shirt. But nobody minded, – our colleague smiles. – My wife liked it, but ultimately she didn’t fall in love with football.

 

Besides going to matches, Damian has another football passion – collecting match jerseys. He came to talk to us with a bag filled to the brim with true gems – a Portugal national team jersey with Figo, Totti’s Roma jersey. Real treasures. – I bought my first jersey in England. I walked into this huge sports store. I saw Beckham’s Real Madrid jersey hanging there. I loved that player. I knew I had to have that jersey! – he says passionately. Interestingly, he also had another Beckham jersey, from Manchester, but he gave it to his younger cousin, who supports the Red Devils. – I regret it a bit, but I won’t take it back from him now, – he smiles.

 

 

When asked what jersey he would like to have in his collection, he says: Hagi’s from his time at Barcelona. But that will be devilishly difficult to get. – I’d also like Lewandowski’s Barcelona jersey, maybe that’ll be easier. He’s the first Pole in that club, and I have a feeling it’ll be a while before there’s another one. Unless it’s a goalkeeper.

 

Interestingly, he tries to infect his coworkers with the passion for supporting. – We’re planning a joint trip to London in Bertrand for the Emirates Cup tournament, organized by Arsenal before the season starts. It would be great if we could pull this off. I’d show the guys a bit of the big football, – our colleague concludes with a smile.

 

The conversation was conducted by Wacław Wachnik.