New Year, New Hope


Leszek ‘The Future’ Pudełek
HTUM Award Winner GS 66 | Talent Category

Interview by: Martin Bros Nielsen, former original FWFC player and blog editor

Having been thrown into the spotlight recently, being nominated for best goalkeeper and finishing a respectable 2nd to the phenomenon Mustafa Tharwat, followed by a win in the category for Fed Talent, Leszek Pudełek might be beginning to show that his nickname is more than just a throwaway bit of fun, and day by day becoming an almost realistic prediction of things to come. We caught up with the big Polish goalkeeper as he enjoyed a day away from training in the Table Mountain National Park, just outside of small governance district of Radków in Lower Silesia.

MBN: It’s great to be able to spend some time with you Leszek, in order to discuss the events of recent weeks and some very notable success you’ve enjoyed recently. Your thoughts on this?

LP: It all came as something of a huge surprise – I never expected anyone to have really heard of me. I’m just here, doing my job for the team. It’s nice to think somebody knew about me enough to think I deserved to be nominated – it’s just mind-blowing to win anything.

MBN: What does it mean to you, to be recognised by the managers and owners of some of the Fed’s biggest teams, and to be said to be following in the footsteps of such legendary goalkeepers as two-time HTUA Goalkeeper winmer Paolo Baggio, and five-time winner Charles Colbourne, not to mention the current Fed phenomenon that is Egypt’s national goalstopper, Mustafa Tharwhat?

LP: Those are huge names, huge talents. They’re my heroes, all of them. I study videos of their goalkeeping techniques… you know, set-pieces, positioning… I’m lucky enough to have had the chance to talk to some of them after Golden League games and get tips and advice on how to develop my career. I don’t really see myself anywhere near on the same level as those players – they are legends. Maybe one day… (he laughs, and shakes his head)

MBN: A good goalkeeper needs a good defence in front of him. How do you feel the youngsters brought in from various Fed teams is coping, and how are the two homegrowns integrating into this – I’m talking about Robak and Hendzlik. Rumours are that the club owner and team manager are also looking at bringing in a possible future U-20 talent from England, to add to the trainees purchased at the Wodkas’ sister club, The Lost Saxons (at time of interview, this had not been confirmed but Al ‘Wolf’ Bains has now officially been purchased). How well is the defence developing, and how confident are you in the future? From the outside, it looks as if Finozzi has a plan in place to build an outstandingly strong foundation to the team, on which to build an even more devastating spine for future advancement.

LP: The manager took a really brave decision, in bringing in a range of talents from around the Federation. We all knew it was a massive gamble, and that only some would make it… that’s the nature of football. Some have moved on now, some have decided in a change of career. I think for many of these players, when they realised their mother club’s didn’t see them in their plans, they saw a chance to make a name for themselves at a smaller club and maybe, just maybe, develop under the manager into a player that would make their former owners sit up and envy in seasons to come. That’s what a few of the guys have told me motivates them right now, becoming the player that their former club’s would love to have, but know they let go. I guess we all find our own motivation in the experiences we’ve had, and in those we still wish to fulfil.

MBN: I have to ask this question, as some neutrals have suggested that Raszków is too small for a player of your size, and we’re not talking physically, more potentially. We’ve seen in the past how amazing talents being developed here in this tiny village were soon allowed to move on, much to the fans’ dismay. I’m talking about EC10, Sami Arsal, Zombie and of course others. Some are saying that it is only a matter of time before ‘The Future’ moves on, what do you have to say on that matter?

LP: It’s not something I think about. Mr. Arsal is part of our backroom staff now, and so he gives me and the other lads a lot of sound advice from his time in various Fed clubs. I know that some of the other names you mentioned are in constant contact with the club, and it would be amazing to have them join the backroom staff in the future. I didn’t choose my nickname… I think that came from the fans. If I can say one thing, I will definitely pay the fans back for their faith in me.

MBN: How do you relax from all the pressure and focus on you now that you’ve really hit the limelight?

LP: I like to come here, to Park Góry Stołowych, the national park. It is such an amazing, beautiful, other-worldly place. You can forget everything here. I like to climb, but it’s not so easy being a big man. You might think I could grip the rocks well with my strength, but my large physique means I’m not as flexible as I’d like to be when climbing the trickier ascents, and I can’t fit my fingers in the smaller finger-holes, not to mention that I am quite heavy, due to my muscle bulk. Luckily, all this is an advantage when I’m in goal.

MBN: What are your personal aims for the upcoming league season, and the eleventh edition of the Golden League?

LP: In the league, I think we can aim for the top three. We’ve had a good start, winning our first ever league games as a squad. Last season was tough, but we know we are only getting stronger. As for the Golden League, I’d really like to avoid anything to do with bacon. (He grins.)

MBN: It has been a real pleasure talking to you, and hope this isn’t the last time we get to meet and discuss ‘The Future’ during 2018.