What Polish imports have said about Australian football
As of July 2021, 83 nations have been represented in the A-League since its interception in 2005.
One of those nations is Poland.
There have been five players from the central European nation who have played in Australia’s professional football competition.
A few of them have some striking views on the state of football across Australia and New Zealand.
Radosław Majewski, Adrian Mierzejewski, Michał Kopczyński, and Marcin Budziński spoke about the A-League throughout various interviews in the Polish media.
They described their time down under, comparing it to the Polish top tier.
Radosław Majewski - Western Sydney Wanderers, 2019-2020:
Radosław Majewski in action against Melbourne City in the FFA Cup. (Getty Images)
With experience in England, Greece and Poland, Majewski was signed in 2019 as a playmaker in Markus Babbel’s Western Sydney squad.
Unfortunately, a season-ending injury prevented the Polish international from featuring at all on an A-League pitch.
Majewski flew back to Poland and featured on Polish television numerous times when recovering from his ACL injury.
Majewski was shocked when understanding how youth players earn so little in the league.
“We played in the quarter-final of the cup against Melbourne City, and I shared a room with a young player, who was 18 years old,” said Majewski on Polsat Sport.
"The player told me he earns $50 a week, I questioned him, ‘what can you do for $50 a week when a hamburger costs $40?’”
Majewski further added that football in Australia is not perceived as a popular sport within the mainstream media.
“In Australia, there was nothing, zero,” said Majewski on Foot Truck.
“We played against Perth in the cup; I picked up a newspaper, and about football, there was absolutely nothing.
“Only a small section about Rooney coming back to Derby; overall, they are not very interested in football.”
Majewski moved back to Poland following the 2019-20 A-League season and transferred back to the Polish sixth-tier side Wieczysta Kraków.
Adrian Mierzejewski - Sydney FC, 2017-2019:
Adrian Mierzejewski playing for Sydney FC. (A-League)
With numerous matches for his country, Adrian Mierzejewski’s transfer to Sydney FC got the Polish football community excited.
Technically skilled and creative, Mierzejewski won the Johnny Warren Medal after the 2017-18 season with 13 goals and 9 assists spanned across 25 matches.
Speaking to Kanał Sportowy in 2020, Mierzejewski explained that his time in Australia was successful.
“Football-wise, it was a very big plus,” said Mierzejewski.
“In that specific season, almost all the objectives were completed.”
Mierzejewski was not a fan of the A-League finals structure, though.
“Personally, and from a player’s perspective, the Premier’s Plate is, without doubt, more important and harder to achieve.
“You can win the Championship [despite] losing more than half of your games during the season. For example, finishing 6th, you can win the elimination, semi, and grand finals on penalties and be crowned the best team in Australia.”
Mierzejewski praised Graham Arnold and his staff as the best he has ever worked with throughout his playing career.
“In terms of discipline to work, Graham Arnold and his staff worked extremely hard every day from sunrise to sunset.”
“Analyzing the opposition, our matches, our training sessions, every individual staff member knew exactly what to do to the finest detail. Their medical staff as well was extremely effective in making sure we were fit and injury-free.”
In terms of quality, Mierzejewski compared the A-League as a demanding league compared to his native Ekstraklasa.
“In Australia, you run a lot, however from a defence perspective, the Ekstraklasa looks tactically better.”
Adrian now plays his football in the Chinese Super League for Shanghai Shenhua.
Michał Kopczyński - Wellington Phoenix, 2018-2019:
Michał Kopczyński (right) with Melbourne Victory's Kosta Barbarouses (left) in 2019. (A-League)
Following a successful season at Legia Warsaw that included Champions League football, Michał Kopczyński moved to Wellington on loan to get consistent minutes on the pitch.
Kopczyński described New Zealand as a lovely country with football’s popularity on the rise.
“The national sport in New Zealand is rugby, second is cricket,” said Kopczyński on Polsat Sport.
“However, football is growing [in] popularity amongst children and young adults.
“Parents prefer to sign their kids to football clubs rather than rugby due to the injuries that can happen.”
Kopczyński compared the NZ Premiership, A-League, and Ekstraklasa to similar levels.
“Some of their better teams [NZ Premiership] I would compare the level of football to the same to our top division,” said Kopczyński.
“[The A-League] is different to our Ekstraklasa; teams play more from the counter.”
Kopczyński was full of praise for the A-League.
“Football-wise, the league is not weak, it’s attractive, it’s well structured,” he said on Arka Gdynia TV.
“It was the best year of [my] life. I had an option to stay; however, it was a long way away from home, from family, from friends.”
Kopczyński returned to Poland following the conclusion of his loan.
He now plays his football for Ekstraklasa side Warta Poznań.
Marcin Budziński – Melbourne City, 2017-18:
Budziński celebrates a goal against the Brisbane Roar in the 2017-18 season. (A-League)
Marcin Budziński moved from Ekstraklasa side Cracovia to Melbourne City for the 2017-18 season.
“The season is played from October to April. You play non-stop; it is intense,” said Budziński on Wyborcza Krakow.
“There is probably less talk about tactics in the A-League compared to the Ekstraklasa; that’s why games seem to be more open.
“You have to run from one side of the field to the other non-stop.”
In terms of Melbourne City’s links to the City Football Group, Budziński was surprised to see how everything worked to every detail.
He trained in Manchester City’s training centre before moving to Australia.
“The daily schedule looked exactly the same as in Manchester, workout classes, eating together, consistent training, methods of work, this doesn’t change,” Budziński said.
Budziński now plays his football for Ekstraklasa side Stal Mielec in south-eastern Poland.
All sources translated by Ian Pulczynski