He is the only footballer not only of the Nowy Żmigród commune, but also of the Jasło poviat, playing in the back of Ekstraklasa. For young players, a role model and an example that dreams come true. Ireneusz Brożyna – football player of the first league in Miedz Legnica.
Ireneusz Brożyna : As a young boy, I wasn’t interested in football. I owe everything to my friend Paweł Kutrzebie, at whose instigation I was leaving the house to kick with my friends. I thank him very much for that and I will always be grateful to him for that. My first pitch was the so-called “Doły” in Mytarzy – the town I come from. Traditionally, we met our friends there every Sunday and played a match against each other at 11:00 am.
At the age of 11 I started training in Wisłoka Nowy Żmigród’s eagles. However, I did not stay there for long, because after only half a year, Czarni Jasło came for me. I was very concerned then. After all, I was a little boy. I owe a lot to my dear mother who convinced me to try my hand at Jasło. My mother took me to all training sessions and matches where she cheered me on. Thank you very much for that. With time, I became so independent that I commuted to Jasło on my own. I also started my education in a sports gymnasium in this city, training all the time in Czarni.
In Czarni you played in the third and fourth league. It was from this team that you first joined the Podkarpacie national team, then the Polish U-17 National Team, and finally Legnica. It can be said that your stay in Jasło is a success story for you.
IB : I have very fond memories of my stay in Jasło. I managed to achieve a lot in Black, but this is mainly thanks to my coaches, who were not afraid to take a risk and put me in the squad despite such a young age. I am especially grateful to coach Robert Podkulski. It was he who saw me and brought me to Jasło, he led me in the youth teams. I am also grateful to coach Robert Hap for the chance to play for the senior team in the 4th and 3rd league. To this day, I have contact with both gentlemen and I cordially greet them.
For every footballer, playing with an eagle on his chest, even in the youth national team, is a great honor. So far you have played for Poland twice in matches against Cyprus and Northern Ireland. How do you remember those moments?
IB : These two matches played in the Polish National Team are the greatest honor in my career so far. Representing your country is the greatest value and success for every footballer. I will work hard to play for the national team again.
Before you came to Miedzi Legnica, you underwent tests in Wisła Kraków.
IB : Yes, I underwent tests in Wisła, but it was not a senior football, but the Young Ekstraklasa. Anyway, it was dissolved after a year … I was playing in the 3rd league then and in my opinion it was better to stay and play in Black than to play in the youth games. I do not regret that I stayed in Jasło for six months. It turned out to be good for me.
Were there any other offers from higher leagues?
IB : I had offers from Legia Warszawa, Ruch Chorzów, Górnik Zabrze and Wisła, but each time they concerned the youth team. I didn’t take advantage of these options because I knew how hard it would be for me to break into the first squad for each of these clubs. In Jasło I was playing senior football, we were promoted to the 3rd league, in addition I was a basic player. It gave me a better chance to improve my skills, because youth football and senior football are two different worlds.
In the winter of the 2013/2014 season, you became a footballer of Miedzi Legnica – a club playing in the back of Ekstraklasa. What were your beginnings in a new place?
IB : The beginnings are always difficult. New friends, new faces, a new city far away from home. I admit that it was hard to acclimatize, especially since I was only 17 years old! I was afraid if I could handle it. The charge of my manager, Patryk Szymański (currently GKS Katowice), helped me to get used to the new environment. At the beginning I lived in a boarding school because I was under 18 years old and the club was responsible for me.
The first introductory training, assessment of the skills of new colleagues, getting to know the team and club, everything was new to me. Nevertheless, I did not run out of enthusiasm for hard work. I did my best in every training session. After about two months, everything was as it should be. I knew everyone, I also got to know the city. It was much easier. Currently, Legnica is my second home.
In Miedzi, you have the opportunity to work under the supervision of outstanding coaches, and recent Polish football stars, such as Wojciech Łobodziński or Łukasz Garguła, train with you. You have someone to learn from.
IB : It’s true. In Miedzia I met many outstanding footballers with well-known names. I will not deny that there is someone to learn from. Most, however, depends on oneself. Approach to training, dedication, always giving 200% of yourself, proper conduct in everyday life – these are very important things. Since I have been in Miedz, I have already had 6 coaches. Everyone instilled in us their own tactics, each introduced new elements. I learned a lot from everyone, but the lack of stabilization means that you have to start all over again, and in my opinion it does not have a good effect on the team’s performance.
So far you have played 12 matches in the 1st league. If it weren’t for injuries, your achievements would probably have looked completely different?
IB : I think that my achievements could actually be much better… Football is an injurious sport. There are already two very serious injuries behind me, which ended in operations. They both took me out of the game for a long time. When everything seemed to be fine, it was spoiled again by injuries. Despite this, I do not break down and do not lose faith that it will be fine. I always come back twice as strong! I adhere to the principle that what does not kill me will make me stronger. As long as I have the chance and can fight, I will. As for the number of my games in the league, I will do my best to make it much, much bigger.
You are a universal footballer who can play both midfield and defense. What position do you feel best in?
IB : It doesn’t matter what position I play. Regardless of whether the coach is showing me in the midfield or in defense, I try to do my best, even if I do not feel well at this point on the pitch. I always leave my heart on the pitch and play the best I can. I never whine because I know that the coach and the team are counting on me. Besides, being versatile on the pitch is a very important quality for a footballer.
Which moment of your career do you remember best?
IB : Of course the one when I managed to break from any third league Black to Copper. Also, my debut in the 1st league was deeply remembered by me. It was an amazing feeling! I am very happy that I managed to make such a huge progress in such a short time and, through hard work, I changed “Doły” into Mytarzy into first-league stadiums.
What do you do in your free time?
IB : I most often meet my friends for lunch or coffee. I cycle a lot in the park in Legnica, where you can relax and have a good time. We occasionally go to the swimming pool or cinema with my teammates, sometimes we can arrange a match on TV. Since I live alone, I got hooked on cooking and I liked it very much. Unfortunately, I don’t like washing up (laughs).
You can often be seen at Wisłoka Nowy Żmigród matches. Do you support your former club?
IB : It always stays in a person where he comes from, where he played and trained. I cheer for mine. I always shake my fingers crossed for Wisłoka’s victory. I never wished my first club badly and I will never do it. I wish Wisłoka the best!
Through the course of your career, you have proved that even a boy from a village in Żmigród can achieve a lot. Many boys would like to follow in your footsteps. What tips do you have for them?
IB : First of all, work, work and hard work again. I don’t really know how people perceive me. What they say and whether they say anything at all. I got it all by myself through hard work. You have to be mega involved in what you are doing. As important as commitment is determination. You have to know what you want and you should strive to achieve the goal. Sometimes you have to deny yourself certain things, you have to be ready to make sacrifices. Everything is for people, however, only moderation.
Who is your soccer idol?
IB : I don’t have my football idol. I am interested and I watch Łukasz Piszczek a bit. He is a very good player, he plays in my position and I must admit that I try to catch his way of playing, how he positions himself and moves. It helps me develop to some extent, helps me find the optimal place on the pitch.
What do you wish for the future?
IB : Health and, above all, health. If it is added, I can achieve whatever I want.
interviewed by Dariusz Kmiecik