Jerzy Brzęczek is named Poland’s new national team manager - but who is he?

Former Poland captain Jerzy Brzęczek has been named as the national team’s new manager. Marcin Bednarski/PAP

Brzęczek’s appointment comes as a surprise given that he has spent just one season in the top flight of Polish football.

Former Poland captain Jerzy Brzęczek has been named as the national team’s new manager.

Brzęczek, who captained the Under-23 squad at the 1992 Olympic final, was appointed on Thursday. 

His appointment was greeted with surprise by fans and journalists though the Polish Football Association president, Zbigniew Boniek is said to have been a fan of Brzęczek’s managerial talent for years.

The diminutive midfielder with a gift for a precise pass or free kick enjoyed relatively little success afterwards as a player – or, indeed, as a coach in the lower divisions of the Polish league where he has spent most of his managerial career to date.

Brzęczek, 47, has spent just one season in the top flight of Polish football, leading Wisła Płock to fifth place, an improvement on their ninth-place finish the previous year. 

This may probably be regarded as his biggest accomplishment since Brzęczek had failed to win promotion with any of his lower-division teams. His has won fewer than 40% of his games as manager.

A relevant aspect of his success with Wisła Płock is that he took the team over just days before the start of the season after his predecessor’s resignation amid conflict with the players. 

Such ability to effect a quick turnaround may prove invaluable in the face of the challenge facing Poland as soon as September when they play Italy and Portugal in Division A of the UEFA League of Nations following a poor World Cup and the resignation of Adam Nawałka, their manager over the past five years.

An intriguing sideshow in Brzęczek’s story is his relationship with one of the players, Jakub Błaszczykowski. 

The 33-year-old Błaszczykowski is a nephew of the new national team manager who took over responsibility of bringing him up after the future footballer witnessed at the age of ten his mother’s murder at the hands of his father. Brzęczek was a 24-year-old player at Tirol Innsbruck in Austria at the time of his sister’s killing.

Following in his uncle’s footsteps, Błaszczykowski also became the national team captain before losing that distinction to Robert Lewandowski, a megastar of Polish football and a younger teammate at Borussia Dortmund. 

He has never hidden his disappointment at the manner of the demotion, of which he learnt from the media, which has prompted speculation that his uncle may restore him to the captaincy. 

Others have speculated that Błaszczykowski may retire from the national team after a successful run including 20 goals in 100 matches.